County plans fix for Clinton Keith Road extension, site of frequent crashes

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At least three single-vehicle crashes have occurred since July 2018 at the off-camber turn where Clinton Keith Road currently dead-ends at Leon Road. Nearby residents say many more have gone unreported to law enforcement. Will Fritz photo

The Riverside County Transportation Department is recommending a number of changes to the segment of Clinton Keith Road that opened last year to connect French Valley with eastern Murrieta.

Residents of neighborhoods near the extension have been complaining about frequent crashes at the road’s terminus, where it connects with Leon Road via a sharp curve with a recommended speed of 15 mph.

There have been at least three major single-vehicle crashes that were reported to law enforcement on that segment since the new roadway opened in July 2018, including one last month that left a driver hospitalized after she lost control of her vehicle and it flew off the edge of the roadway down an embankment.

While those three were documented, there have been many that have gone unreported to authorities, residents told Valley News in November.

“Some of them, you have fire and ambulance respond to, some of them you haven’t, because the people have simply abandoned their vehicle,” Dawn Morabe, who lives in the nearby Foxtail neighborhood, said in a story that ran Oct. 29. “They’ve taken out the guardrail more than once. If you drive out there, if you simply look at the concrete … there are tire skid marks, there’s vehicle parts.”

Dennis Acuna, Riverside County traffic engineer, said Nov. 21, the county is planning to make several changes to the road in the area, including adding new striping and signage warning of the approaching curve and reducing eastbound Clinton Keith to two lanes further in advance of the curve, before the Trois Valley Street signal. Right now, the road remains three lanes until about 1,500 feet before it ends at Leon Road.

“The plan is to end that third lane sooner so there’s less jockeying,” Acuna said.

He said those changes should be made by the middle of December.

The county also plans to install some flashing lights through the curve that will automatically activate as vehicles are detected.

“When they’re approaching that curve, they will be detected and it will turn on a sea of flashing lights that will kind of guide them through the curve,” Acuna said.

Those lights are expected to be installed sometime after the new year.

“We still have to look at different vendors and go through the approval process,” Acuna said. “That will be all we have in our toolbox for now.”

Despite the reports of accidents, Acuna said the roadway is operating as designed. Clinton Keith Road will eventually extend all the way to Winchester Road, but for now, there isn’t enough funding to complete its final segment.

“There are 20,000 vehicles a day on that road, so for the most part it’s operating the way it’s intended for an interim solution. It’s just those early morning, late night drivers,” he said.

However, the fixes can’t come soon enough, neighbors said. Morabe said two more single-vehicle accidents occurred over the Thanksgiving holiday.

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