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Danger grows on rural county roads as traffic increases

March 22, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — City officials here have talked for years about the traffic problem caused by trucks and cars leaving Highway 98 and using Cole Road as a shortcut to Highway 111.

On Wednesday they were told it will get worse.

In a presentation to county and city officials, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency provided an overview of the environmentally dangerous hot spots of Calexico.

They said one of the most dangerous areas of town is Cole Road and Highway 98.

As a proactive measure, the EPA recommended shutting off all truck traffic on Highway 98 east of Highway 111 and Cole Road when Highway 7 is completed.

In the five or six years it will take to build Highway 7, all the new homes and businesses planned for the area surrounding Cole Road and Highway 98 will be at risk of a dangerous spill or accident, according to EPA spokesman Terry Planton.


He said an average of two trucks carrying hazardous materials pass through that intersection every hour.

By closing off the trucks' path through town, it would make area residents safer and improve traffic flow, he said.

Councilman Gilbert Grijalva said the city has already started taking steps to alleviate the problem to which Planton referred.

He said the council has started to look at routing traffic from the Calexico East Port of Entry to Jasper Road.

This would be done whether or not Highway 7 is completed, Grijalva said.

In addition to calling Cole Road and Highway 98 a "hot spot," the EPA declared the entire southwest area of town "an area of human risk" because of its proximity to rail yards and the New River.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419.

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