Construction of Diaz Road extension expected to begin in next three years

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Diaz Road may extend to the northern edge of Temecula within the next few years, although there are still no plans to pave the road on the Murrieta side, where it's known as Washington Avenue. Will Fritz photo

The city of Temecula is a step closer to finally building part of a planned road link between the northwest portion of that city and the southwest corner of Murrieta.

Temecula officials have long planned for Diaz Road to connect with Murrieta’s Washington Avenue. In 2014, after a different connection opened up – the Jackson Avenue-Ynez Road bridge – former Temecula mayor Maryann Edwards told the Press-Enterprise that the city had been “trying to broach that subject for years.”

Temecula’s general plan designates Diaz Road for ultimate build-out as a major arterial four-lane road up to the city limits at Cherry Street. In Murrieta, the road is still unpaved south of Elm Street.

Within the next few years, a Diaz Road that at least connects with the Murrieta city limit may finally be a reality.

The Temecula City Council at its Oct. 22 meeting approved the acceleration of nearly $500,000 of Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee funds from the Western Riverside Council of Governments to the current fiscal year.

The funds, which come from fees charged to developers to pay for their “fair share” of increased traffic their projects create once built, were originally intended for the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

By accelerating the funds, the city can pay for a design and environmental consulting agreement contract with David Evans and Associates Inc., which the council awarded at the same meeting.

The agreement is for the total $733,312 and is also being paid for with funds from the county Development Impact Fee program and Measure S – Temecula’s one-cent sales tax increase that was approved in 2015.

Patrick Thomas, director of the city of Temecula’s Public Works Department, said now that the council has approved the funds necessary to pay for the design consultant, the city will “be starting that design process shortly” for the Diaz Road extension project. The city’s budget currently calls for actual construction of the project to begin sometime during the 2021-2022 fiscal year, Thomas said.

“So we’ve got a good year and a half of design before we would actually be starting any construction on that,” he said.

However, there are still no plans to pave Murrieta’s section of the road south of Elm Street, according to city of Murrieta spokeswoman Robin Godfrey, who said there are some barriers to construction of that section of Washington Road including issues with protected land.

On the Temecula side, in addition to extending Diaz Road, the project will also include improvements to existing segments of the road, including widening and modification to medians, sidewalks, drainage and traffic signals.

The city began taking bids on consultants for the road project in May, and entered into an agreement with the Western Riverside Council of Governments to use more than $1 million on the project in August.

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.