EL CENTRO — In response to several public requests and the result of a traffic study regarding the T-intersection at Austin and Brewer roads, the Imperial County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to approve a resolution authorizing the installation of three stops signs at the three-way intersection.
Since 2014, four accidents have occurred at the intersection due to illegal U-turn movements raising local residents’ concerns as well as other members of the traveling public.
Director of Public Works, William Brunet, said in 2014 as development continues, routes to move farm equipment from one end of the valley to the other becomes limited. Austin Road remains one of the main avenues to move heavy equipment from the south end to the north end and back.
However, a tractor can’t get through there with the median limiting large ag machinery to one lane and telephone poles line the side of the road prohibiting navigation around the median.
The median also has high barrier poles, preventing implements from merely being raised to avoid the center divider.
According to Imperial County CEO, Ralph Cordova, the developer Monterey Park and the bond company are both gone.
Linsey Dale, executive director of the Farm Bureau, previously reminded the board with summer over the agricultural activity will be picking up again and the median on Austin is a liability and danger to the traveling public and very unsafe.
“I have several members ready to level the island if given the green light,” Dale told the board in 2014.
The Board of Supervisors directed the Public Works Department to commission a traffic study which was completed by Hui Lai, a traffic engineer from the consulting firm, Traffic Safety Engineers (TSE). The firm concluded that a three-way stop was warranted due to the need to better control left hand turn movements.
At its regular meeting on June 29, the Imperial County Traffic Advisory Committee (TAC) was informed of the proposal to install a three-way stop T-intersection and had no objections.
The problem began when Monterey Park subdivision developers needed a bridge over the canal that ran parallel to Austin Road as an access road for a new development. A need for public safety caused engineers to design a safer design to protect against oncoming traffic and they installed a median in the middle of the road that prohibited left hand turns across traffic.
Austin Road is a two-lane north/south rural arterial highway. Brewer Road is a two-lane east/west residential street. The T-intersection of Austin and Brewer roads is currently controlled by a stop sign on Brewer Road. Westbound traffic on Brewer Road is required to stop at the intersection and wait for a safe traffic gap before entering Austin Road. Because of the center concrete island on Austin Road, westbound traffic on Brewer Road is restricted to only a right-turn movement onto Austin Road. Similarly, the concrete island restricts southbound traffic on Austin Road from left-turning onto Brewer Road.
According to Lai, the traffic study showed that a significant number of right-turn vehicles from Brewer Road were making illegal U-turns resulting in numerous traffic collisions between southbound traffic and U-turn traffic.
The engineer’s estimated amount for the project is $44,938. There will be no impact to the County General Fund.