The County’s Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) recommended all-way stop signs for the intersection of Alturas Road and Fallbrook Street.
The TAC voted 7-2 June 7 to recommend the all-way stop control. The recommendation is scheduled to be heard by the San Diego County Board of Supervisors on Aug. 7; if the supervisors approve the first reading and introduction of the ordinance the second reading and adoption would occur Sept. 11 and the ordinance would become enforceable Oct. 11, although the county’s Department of Public Works (DPW) could install the stop signs prior to that.
The TAC’s recommendation also included crosswalks at all four legs of the intersection. Because that is an operational rather than a regulatory change, Board of Supervisors approval is not required.
The Fallbrook Community Planning Group is scheduled to make its recommendation June 17. Because the planning group has not yet taken an official position, planning group circulation chair Anne Burdick officially spoke as an individual rather than on behalf of the planning group.
“This is a very difficult stop for pedestrians more than for the vehicles,” Burdick said. “This is a very highly trafficked path for schoolchildren as well as residents who are walking to the Post Office.”
Burdick added that the limit line extends into the intersection itself, forcing pedestrians to walk into the street. “There is concern about the safety of the students,” she said.
The TAC has continued items to allow for official planning group input, but Burdick opposed such a delay. “It would not be ready for the beginning of school,” she said.
DPW’s traffic surveys only include vehicular traffic. The April 2013 traffic survey indicated average daily volumes of 2,580 westbound vehicles on Fallbrook Street east of Alturas Road, 1,770 northbound vehicles on Alturas Road south of Fallbrook Street, 920 southbound vehicles on Alturas Road north of Fallbrook Street, and 400 eastbound vehicles on Fallbrook Street west of Alturas Road.
The previous traffic survey was taken in May 1998 and had an average daily volume of 1,840 northbound vehicles on Alturas Road south of Fallbrook Street, 1,310 westbound vehicles on Fallbrook Street east of Alturas Road, and 790 southbound vehicles on Alturas Road north of Fallbrook Street. The September 1979 traffic survey had average daily volumes of 280 northbound, 260 westbound, and 240 southbound vehicles.
“The majority of these people are turning,” said DPW traffic engineer Mike Kenney. “I don’t think that you’re going to see tremendous operational changes.”
Alturas Road is a striped two-lane through highway which is not classified on the county’s Mobility Element network. The north leg is 34 feet wide with a 25 mph speed limit while the south leg is 38 feet in width and has a 35 mph speed limit certified for radar enforcement. The east leg of Fallbrook Street is a striped two-lane county-maintained road 38 feet wide with a 25 mph speed limit. The west leg is an un-striped private cul-de-sac 30 feet wide.
Currently stop signs exist for the two legs of Fallbrook Street. “The stop sign is a good eight feet back from the limit line,” Burdick said. “You have no line of sight to the right if you stop where the stop sign is.”
The limit line is also beyond the pedestrian ramp. “We’d like to be able to move that limit line back behind that ped ramp,” Kenney said.
Hamid Bahadori, who represented the Automobile Club of Southern California and cast one of the two votes against the all-way stop, noted that the stop sign from the private road segment of Fallbrook Street west of the intersection was later complemented by a stop sign from the east leg. “That’s why we ended up with a two-way stop at an intersection that doesn’t need any,” he said.
No collisions at the intersection were reported during the five-year period from Feb. 28, 2008, to Feb. 28, 2013.
“The people are using that street safely,” Bahadori said.
“Perception should be documented,” Bahadori said. “I just don’t see a safety problem.”
The accident warrant for an all-way stop is five collisions within the past 12 months which would be correctable by a stop control. The volume warrant requires eight hours with at least 500 total vehicles entering the intersection including 200 vehicles on the minor street approach. That is met from 7 a.m. to 8 a.m., 4 p.m. to 5 p.m., and 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. The two legs have more than 200 vehicles apiece but a total of only 470 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. From 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. the 390 vehicles consisted of 200 and 190 from the two roads while from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. the road had 240 and 190 vehicles.
The other opposing vote was cast by Bill Matella of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition. “Unwarranted all-way stops are problematic for vehicles,” Matella said. “Kids will see that there are stop signs and think they’re perfectly safe going through when they may not be.”
Dan Hollywood, who represented the Oceanside office of the California Highway Patrol, noted that Alturas Road has been used as a shortcut to Camp Pendleton and that the recent traffic improvements into the base may reduce the volume. “They’re taking away people using the road,” Hollywood said.