When will Westmorland paving project be done?
With the paving of Westmorland’s South Center Street, what exactly was supposed to have gotten worked on? I’m asking this question because we waited about two months for them to open the streets again, and it seems to me that nothing great got done. My opinion is that they did a very sloppy job and it seems to me that the job did not even get finished right. Some sides were paved, others were not and even on one side they did not even finish painting the stripes. I think they made us wait too long for such a messy job. What happened there? Is the problem of the city of Westmorland? Are they not done with their job yet? — Concerned Resident, Westmorland
This has been an ongoing problem for many years, as Westmorland has been the primary truck traffic route from many parts north into Imperial County. It’s been a long time, more than a decade, but truck traffic on Center Street was a concern even before a small child was struck and killed there.
Over the last year, public works consultants, the City Council, the Police Department, county officials and the Department of Transportation have seemed to be on the same page in an effort to force truck traffic away from Westmorland.
This all starts with the City Council and the consultants, but others are involved through approvals and enforcement. Long story, short: Westmorland can’t simply close Center Street to truck traffic, but through various methods, it is making it less and less convenient for that truck traffic, until it can finally close it off altogether.
But first, back to the initial question. The work is not yet complete, but the first of two phases is, according to the consultant, who also doubles as the city’s deputy director of development services.
Everything you see is done according to the plans, which were approved by Caltrans. The work was basically meant to rebuild portions of Center Street from the base up, because of the serious damage done by multi-ton trucks driving through town on a near-24-hour basis, he said.
The work took the full 60 days because of the need to rebuild the road so thoroughly. There is also striping where it needs to be.
The project cost $525,000, awarded over five years through demonstration funds through U.S. Rep. Bob Filner, D-Chula Vista.
The next phase, which is awaiting Caltrans approval in the next 30 days, involves about 1,800 feet of new curbs and gutters on Center from Baughman Road to Highway 86. That project will also include street lights and enhanced crosswalks. It will also take 60 days once the project goes out to bid and is started.
This one is being paid for by a combination of federal and state safety grants to the tune of $1 million.
So, everything is being done in time and, from the sound of it, being done correctly.
There is also money already earmarked through the Imperial County Transportation Commission for a signal light at Center and 86.
To return to the idea of getting the trucks off of Center, one of the biggest things that phases 1 and 2 do is to narrow the width of Center from 70 feet across to 24 feet across, thereby allowing the city to reduce the in-town speed limit to 15 mph.
“We’re hoping it will choke off trucks, and they’ll get bothered by it and use an alternate route. We just can’t arbitrarily say no truck traffic …” he said.
Before that, though, the Westmorland City Council passed two separate ordinances that went into effect three months ago that fine trucks breaking the law within city limits. Police can now fine trucks carrying hazardous materials in town (ordinance 1) and trucks that are over 83 feet in length (ordinance 2).
The consultant said the ordinances are working and police are out writing citations, which carry fines on first offense, multiple times a day.
It seems to us that all of these remedies are like death by 1,000 cuts, and if that means death to around-the-clock semi traffic in Westmorland, nobody will shed a tear.