Plans to widen Cole Road blanketed by red tape

April 24, 2002|By AARON CLAVERIE

Staff Writer

CALEXICO — As developers move forward with plans to build around 600 homes, an industrial park, a mobile home/RV park, new commercial centers and apartments within a mile radius of Cole Road, city Planning Commissioner Genaro Grijalva wanted to know what's happening with plans to widen Cole Road to 126 feet.

The Planning Commission approved those plans last year.

It did so because every day Cole Road is packed with big rigs heading to shipping centers east of Highway 111, residents of new homes off Meadows Avenue motoring to and fro and people headed to Wal-Mart, Hometown Buffet and other area stores.

Answering Grijalva's query during Monday's commission meeting, city Planning Director Ricardo Hinojosa said the commission's plan to widen the road to 126 feet have been "deferred" by the city's Public Works Department. After seeing the quizzical looks on the commissioner's faces, Hinojosa explained.


The Public Works Department is planning to widen the two-lane road to 100 feet from Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue to Bowker Road to accommodate at least four lanes, then leave 26 feet north of the road to expand it in the future, Hinojosa said.

As for when all of that should have been done, Hinojosa said, "It should have been done five years ago."

Public Works Director Mariano Martinez disagrees. He said the widening project hasn't been deferred.

"That's incorrect," he said.

Martinez said his office is ready to go out to bid on the widening project this week but he has to wait until the county signs off an agreement to transfer funds to the city to pay for part of the construction.

Hinojosa and Martinez disagree as to when the widening project should have started.

Hinojosa thinks it should have been started and paid for in late 1996 by developers who built houses south of Cole Road. Hinojosa told the Planning Commission on Monday that the "streets should come before the housing. That's the way I understand planning."

That's not what happened with Cole Road.

Hinojosa said, "That's backward."

Instead of forcing developers to pay for the widening of Cole Road, the city took over the responsibility for the widening, Hinojosa said.

Martinez said the project would have been started if not for delays caused by the county's examination of the fund transfer agreement and "environmental issues and concerns."

"Things take time," he added.

For instance, Martinez said before the city could go ahead with widening Cole Road it had to determine whether the construction would affect the mating season of birds.

Regarding the protracted negotiations with the county, Martinez said, "We're in the process of working through the agreement with the county but they haven't dropped off the agreement. The ball is bouncing back and forth."

>> Staff Writer Aaron Claverie can be reached at 337-3419 or

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