Monday, July 29, 2013

Traffic Trouble in Temecula and the state

A park in Murrieta. Huge development plans are in store in Temecula and The Transit Coalition is keeping a close watch on such smart growth proposals in order to combat exacerbated traffic trouble in Temecula where forced traffic flow and congestion are already present. One major development project advocated by the city is the revitalization of a commercial corridor linking the Old Town district toward the northern city border. The Jefferson Avenue vision calls for large parks, an uptown district, a sports area, an arts district and mixed use buildings ranging from 3-8 stories. A second major plan proposes additional housing, a school and potentially a second hospital or college/university campus in between the Old Town area and the foothills to the west.

Transit and highway infrastructure must be upgraded if this development is to prosper—no question. The existing infrastructure near the I-15 freeway corridor simply cannot sustain current demands let alone the additional vehicles generated by the development proposed. Try heading into or leaving Temecula during the afternoon peak hour at 5 pm. Ask the locals just how bad traffic can get near the I-15 freeway. Earlier this month, a large event in the region caused a local Temecula freeway off ramp queue to back up into the main freeway lanes, causing a chain reaction that slowed traffic for five miles. We don't want Temecula to become the next Corona Crawl.

To be fair, both Temecula and its neighbor Murrieta have been proactive in getting infrastructure built and plans are moving forward with a local interchange project which involves shutting down a major off ramp in the area next weekend.

However, much more needs to be done in order to get the region's transportation network into stability and the state needs to be held accountable for getting this done. On top of what is locally proposed, Temecula is going to need several more amenities in order to sustain the continued growth demand: Dual high occupancy lanes in each direction along the I-15 between Corona and Escondido which support free non-transponder carpooling, direct access ramps between the HOV/HOT lanes and transit hubs, additional north/south connectors between Temecula and Murrieta, an extension of the Metrolink Perris Valley Line into the region, a BRT line between the Pechanga Resort and Lake Elsinore, hourly all-day intercity bus service offered by the private sector between LA and San Diego, and a more direct hub-and-spoke local bus network. All this will not be possible unless the state stops displacing transportation funds and gas tax revenue to other special interest programs.

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