Vail Ranch, Redhawk parkways to go on a ‘road diet’

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The city of Temecula plans to cut the eastern section of the Vail Ranch Parkway and Redhawk Parkway loop road down to one lane as part of a “road diet” to cut traffic speeds and increase safety. Will Fritz photo

Changes are coming to Vail Ranch and Redhawk parkways in Temecula, which constitute the loop road that connects the Redhawk and Vail Ranch neighborhoods on the south end of town.

In August, the Temecula City Council approved a number of “traffic calming” changes to the road, which sees low traffic volumes but has poor sight-distance in some areas combined with a 45 mph speed limit.

The council already voted at its Oct. 8 meeting to cut the speed limit on Vail Ranch Parkway down to 40 mph between Nighthawk Pass and Redhawk Parkway, which is part of the first phase of the traffic calming measures. Other measures in phase one include re-striping Redhawk Parkway at Peppercorn Drive to create dual left turn lanes, installing speed feedback signs to warn drivers to slow down, modifying traffic signals along the road to “rest in red” during night hours and installing a rapid-flashing crosswalk beacon at Camino Rubano. 

The biggest change, though, is yet to come – phase two includes plans to put Redhawk and Vail Ranch parkways on a “road diet” and cut it down to one lane in each direction for the entire eastern section of the loop between Peppercorn Drive and the north intersection where Vail Ranch and Redhawk parkways link up again, which city associate engineer Jerry Gonzalez said is to help reduce the speed of traffic and improve safety.

“What we found in the analysis is this is the area where (traffic) volumes are a lot lower and speeds are a lot higher. It’s something that worked really well on La Serena,” Gonzalez said, referring to a similar change implemented on La Serena Road in the last few years.

The city plans to implement the road diet sometime in the late spring after it completes some needed road maintenance in the area.

“This way, we can get a nice fresh surface on there that we can paint,” Gonzalez said.

In addition to hopefully encouraging drivers to drop their speeds, Gonzalez said the road diet will create a buffer zone for bicyclists, allow space for right-turn pockets and give drivers more room to creep out to be able to see while exiting their neighborhoods – which is necessary because the nature of the loop road can make it hard to see very far.

The reduction down to one lane should have little impact on traffic congestion, Gonzalez said – the eastern section of the loop road sees a maximum of 11,000 vehicles per day in the area closest to Great Oak High School at Peppercorn Drive – which is the reason for the installation of dual left turn lanes at that area – and only sees about 3,500 near Johnston Drive. For comparison, the western Redhawk Parkway section of the loop sees daily traffic volumes as high as 25,000.

Phase three of the traffic calming measures does not yet have a timeline but includes plans to modify the right turn ramp from southbound Redhawk Parkway to its continuation on the loop road so that it merges into the No. 1 lane, rather than the No. 2 lane as it does currently. The city also plans to restrict traffic turning from Via Saltio onto Redhawk Parkway to right turns only and install a traffic barrier at that intersection.

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