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Calexico may erect traffic signals without RDA funds

July 18, 2001|By AARON CLAVERIE, Staff Writer

CALEXICO — If Mariano Martinez's plan comes together, this city will add traffic signals at the intersection of Highway 111 and Meadows Road without using one cent from the city's Redevelopment Agency.

This is a 180-degree about-face from last week's RDA meeting.

At that meeting, Martinez, this city's public works director, asked the RDA for more than $1 million to pay for traffic signals and new turn lanes for the intersection near Calexico High School.

The agency board tentatively approved the allocation but gave Martinez direction to find alternative funding so the RDA wouldn't have to pick up the entire tab for the improvements.

At Tuesday's council meeting, Martinez told the board, seated as the City Council, his new plan.

He said he will meet with representatives of the California Department of Transportation this week and ask them to allow the city to put in just the traffic signals and not make any other improvements to the intersection.

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The "other improvements," new turn lanes and a widening of Highway 98 near the intersection, pushed the cost of the project to around $1.65 million, according to Martinez.

He said the city should not use RDA funds to improve state highways since Caltrans might decide to make the improvements in the near future.

Martinez said he was told by Caltrans officials late last week that Caltrans is going to conduct environmental impact reviews of two proposed rerouting proposals for Highway 98.

The alternatives selected are improving Highway 98 and constructing a dogleg around the city using Bowker, Jasper and Dogwood roads.

Caltrans made the decision to do EIRs on those alternatives after meetings with business and elected leaders two months ago.

Since Caltrans could decide to fix/widen Highway 98 in the near future, Martinez said the state agency should be receptive to his plan to add signals to the intersection while Caltrans conducts studies that could take two to three years.

Martinez will propose Caltrans and the city share the cost of placing the traffic signals far enough apart so if Caltrans does decide to widen Highway 98 it wouldn't have to touch the signals.

Martinez said the signals should cost $250,000, with the city picking up half the tab.

The city's half of the $250,000 will be paid with developer impact fees, leaving RDA funds untouched.

Mayor Pro Tem John Renison said, "Well, that's a no-brainer."

The council voted unanimously to give direction to Martinez to negotiate with Caltrans on the city's behalf.

"Just get it done," said City Councilman Gilbert Grijalva.

In other business at Tuesday's meeting, Mayor Victor Carrillo made two appointments to the city Recreation Commission: community youth basketball coach Daniel Santillian and the chairman of the William Moreno Junior High School history department, Jesus Flores.

Leaving the commission will be Moreno Junior High Assistant Principal Sergio Pesqueira and Jack Anderson.

Anderson said this morning he wishes the new commissioners well but had hoped to be reappointed so that he could be on the commission when Nosotros Park is finished.

Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or claverie7@hotmail.com

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