Temecula City Council approves speed limit reduction on Vail Ranch Parkway

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The Temecula City Council voted Oct. 8 to lower the speed limit on a section of Vail Ranch Parkway to 40 mph from 45 mph. Will Fritz photo

The Temecula City Council voted at its Oct. 8 meeting to drop the speed limit slightly on a stretch of road in south Temecula.

Vail Ranch Parkway will see its maximum speed dropped from 45 to 40 mph between Nighthawk Pass and Redhawk Parkway.

The California Vehicle Code requires local jurisdictions to review speed limits every seven years on the basis of an engineering and traffic survey.

The speed limit is determined based on the speed of the 85th percentile of traffic measured in that survey, within 5 mph increments – meaning if the city records 100 cars traveling on a road, the speed traveled by the 15th-fastest car is what will determine the speed limit. If that car is traveling at 47 mph, the speed limit is set at 45 mph.

Jurisdictions can extend those speed limits for an additional three years to a maximum of 10 years if they determine no significant changes in traffic conditions have occurred.

The city reviewed 19 road segments on thoroughfares including Date Street, De Portola Road, Nicolas Road, Pauba Road and Rainbow Canyon Road that last had their speed limits updated in 2013 and chose not to make any changes for the three year period.

The city council, however, had already approved several “traffic calming” measures for Vail Ranch Parkway in August – and one of those measures involved lowering the speed limit. Some of the other measures include putting Vail Ranch Parkway on a “road diet” by trimming it down to one lane in each direction, setting traffic signals to “rest in red” during overnight hours, adding a high visibility school crosswalk and more.

While jurisdictions have to base speed limits on the actual speed of the 85th percentile of traffic, they can lower the speed limit by 5 mph if conditions justify the reduction. And in the case of Vail Ranch Parkway – which connects with Redhawk Parkway to form a continuous loop – the city found visibility constraints on the road, Jerry Gonzalez, an associate engineer with the city of Temecula, told the city council.

The speed limit reduction passed 4-0 with council member Matt Rahn, who lives nearby, abstaining.

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

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