County considers stop signs for challenging Rancho Santa Fe intersection

One of Rancho Santa Fe’s most dysfunctional junctions may soon be seeing some improvements as the County of San Diego is exploring upgrading the intersection of Linea Del Cielo, Calzada Del Bosque and Rambla De Las Flores from a two-way to an all-way stop. At the Oct. 4 Rancho Santa Fe Association meeting, the board gave its support to the proposal being considered by the County Traffic Advisory Committee.

“I describe the intersection as the skew angle, offset compound curve, challenging alignment, sight distance limited intersection,” said Kenton Jones, managing traffic engineer for the County of San Diego, regarding the crossroads’ numerous issues.

According to Jones, about 7,000 cars a day enter the intersection with hourly volumes of 500 cars an hour.

“By volume, we should be considering a more forceful assignment of right-of-way and traffic control,” Jones said, noting that the need for the all-way stop is enhanced when considering the number of traffic collisions that occur at the intersection.

Rancho Santa Fe Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser said most people in the community are familiar with how the intersection operates, or doesn’t. Rambla De Las Flores and Calzada Del Bosque approach the thoroughfare of Linea Del Cielo not quite aligned and each have a stop sign. Jones said visibility is poor on both side streets due to the curvature of the road—drivers have to look for gaps in the traffic flow to get on Linea Del Cielo or across and there are sometimes some bad decisions made, he said.

“We’ve been struggling with this intersection for about as long I’ve worked here,” said Wellhouser, who has been with the Patrol for 38 years. “It’s not an easy one to fix.”

Wellhouser said the proposal for the stop signs came to the RSF Patrol from member complaints and in March they forwarded the item to the Traffic Advisory Committee for consideration.The committee, which includes traffic specialists from the county’s Department of Public Works and representatives from Caltrans, San Diego Bicycle Coalition, California Highway Patrol (CHP) and San Diego Sheriff’s Department, took a comprehensive look and released the findings in August with recommendations for the problem intersection. The committee examined prevailing speeds, traffic volume and CHP collision reports by type, cause and time of occurrence.

Jones said there have been about 25 collisions at the intersections in a five-year period; the intersection averages about five documented accidents a year. Just last week, an RSF Association staff member was involved in a collision at the intersection.

Jones said 85 percent of drivers approach the intersection going about 32 to 35 miles per hour while 15 percent are driving at excessive speeds.

“In my experience this intersection is a good candidate for the next step,” Jones said.

Jones said the all-way stop would help minimize collisions by assigning the right-of-way while the trade-off will be a little more delay on the roads. The county traffic engineers ran a simulated model of traffic flow with the all-way stops and found that there will not be a substantial increase in queuing or delay in the peak hours.

The RSF Association board unanimously supported the efforts for the all-way stop, “I think this is a great idea, this curve is a nightmare,” said Vice President Allen Finkelson. At least one person at the meeting was opposed to the proposal: “I hate unnecessary stop signs and I consider what you are proposing to be an unnecessary stop sign,” said resident Rory Kendall.

RSF Association President Ken Markstein said he felt that the stop signs were “long overdue,” although he did have concerns about advance notifications for drivers on the curving Linea Del Cielo as well as notifications for the public about the new stop signs.

Jones said due to the curvature of the road, “stop ahead” signs and flashing lights will be considered on Linea Del Cielo. In the two-to-four weeks before installation, Jones said signs notifying the public about “New traffic pattern ahead” would be placed on the road and would remain in the first weeks of the new signs.

With the RSF Association’s support, the all-way stop will move onto the Traffic Advisory Committee in December and its recommendation will go to the San Dieguito Planning Group for review and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors for final approval, possibly by February 2019.

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