Caltrans to present Cole Road traffic reroute proposals despite concerns of ‘johnny-come-latelies'

June 06, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — International businessmen such as Bill Polkinhorn and Alex Campillo said they think Calexico's plan to reroute truck traffic off Cole Road is unfair.

Mariano Martinez, this city's public works director, called the men "johnny-come-latelies" and asked, "They don't come to the meetings, and they want to complain now?"

The issue that has some of Calexico's civic and business leaders verbally tussling is a proposal by the California Department of Transportation and the city of Calexico that would reroute heavy truck traffic from the East Calexico Port of Entry off of Cole Road onto Bowker Road, sending it west on Jasper Road.

In City Hall at 4:30 p.m. Thursday Caltrans officials will present three possible routes they have drawn up and are asking for public input.


All of their proposals force truck traffic off Cole Road, but a Caltrans spokeswoman said they could consider other alternatives.

International businessmen with truck lots along Cole Road and Highway 111, notably Campillo and Polkinhorn, said the city zoned the area for lots and encouraged their business enterprises there.

They think it is unfair that the rerouting proposal endorsed by the city would take trucks off Cole Road because they feel it would cause economic hardship on their businesses.

For more than a year, the city's planning and public works departments have looked at various scenarios to deal with the 1,000 trucks that motor down Cole Road to Highway 111 or the lots owned by the businessmen.

They were spurred on by city councilmen who heard complaints of potholes, long lines and congestion the trucks brought to the Cole Road shortcut. Trucks used to get to Highway 111 from Highway 98.

The city Planning Department recommended to the City Council the proposal that would reroute the traffic to Bowker Road and west on Jasper Road.

Campillo, owner of the International Trade Center on Cole Road and Highway 111, said this plan would lengthen the trip his trucks make by 4.2 miles. He said the city should widen and retrofit Cole Road for truck and automobile traffic.

Customhouse broker Polkinhorn, who owns Bill Polkinhorn Inc., has said he will be at Thursday's meeting to voice his personal displeasure.

Caltrans spokeswoman Olga Estrada said if there is enough support for a Cole Road plan, the department would consider it.

The three routes drawn up and scheduled to be unveiled Thursday are only suggestions, she said.

"This is our first of several meetings to inform the public of proposed changes to Highway 98," Estrada said.

She said it will be a couple of years before any actual construction is done because the department will still have to do the bulk of the environmental studies on the land after a decision is made.

She said the city's recommendation carries "some weight" but the final decision could depend on what the public input is.

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