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El Centro residents have varied opinions regarding widening Ross Avenue

May 03, 2002|By RUDY YNIGUEZ

Staff Writer

It's OK to widen Ross Avenue. It just depends on how it's done, according to local residents.

Mrs. Kenneth Holmes, who with her husband has lived in the 1200 block for 51 years, said they knew it was only a matter of time before the street would need enlarging.

"I think the elimination of the on-street parking is an excellent idea because of the hospital," she said this morning, adding the potential widening of the street is acceptable. "As far as we're concerned, with our setback, it's not too bad for us."

Holmes also said city plans to discuss the project with residents is an excellent idea.

Heber Hernandez, who closed escrow on a house in the 1000 block of Ross just four days ago, said any problems on the street lie at the city's feet.

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"I think the city's allowing this to happen due to poor planning," he said Thursday, adding that one way to deal with the cramped parking is to limit on-street parking to those who live on Ross by issuing decals as they do in other cities.

Hernandez said if the city chooses to widen the street, power poles should be moved under eminent domain proceedings, thus allowing the whole community to share in the cost of the benefits of an upgraded street. He also said planning for the street's upgrades should have started at the same time it was decided to expand the hospital.

"I think it's being done very hastily," he said.

The El Centro City Council on Wednesday approved moving forward with a $300,000 expansion considered to be of medium impact to the area.

The three options the council considered were:

· to eliminate on-street parking along both sides of Ross and re-stripe for three lanes, two eastbound, one westbound. This alternative would not require any right-of-way acquisition, street widening or utility relocation, but would only increase traffic capacity slightly and all on-street parking would be prohibited, according to the staff report.

· the elimination of on-street parking along both sides of Ross, widen the roadbed a minimum of eight feet and re-stripe for four lanes of travel, two in each direction. According to the staff report, this alternative may not require any right-of-way acquisition, or "only a slight take," the street widening is minimized while providing four lanes, utility relocation would be limited and traffic volume capacity would be increased while simultaneously improving the area to a better traffic level of service.

· widen the roadbed 24 feet and re-stripe to four traffic lanes and two parking lanes. This alternative requires right-of-way acquisition of at least 22 feet, large-scale utility relocation including power poles and transformers, increases traffic capacity, improves the traffic level of service and maintains the existing parking. However, the on-street parking would be offset by likely reductions in off-street parking, resulting from the right-of-way acquisition.

The City Council approved the second alternative. The council directed staff to discuss the possibility of placing utilities underground.

City Councilman Jack Dunnam urged city staff to meet with the residents on Ross to ensure their input is received.

"You have to take care of that up-front," he said.

On the issue of parking, it is expected that when the El Centro Regional Medical Center's expansion is completed, toward the end of the year, there will be sufficient off-street parking for all employees.

Meanwhile, Martha Myer, who lives in the 1200 block of Ross, said it would be a good idea to eliminate the parking to widen the street.

"For sure I wouldn't like them to take my property," she said, adding there should have been better planning associated with the hospital's expansion. "We shouldn't be made to suffer because of their inability to plan."

Myer, a seven-year Ross Avenue resident, said two problems include people parking in her driveway and the difficulty seeing traffic as she leaves the driveway. She also asked if the work the city just completed several months ago on Ross will now be undone only to redo it if the street is widened.

Ray Carranco, a three-year resident on Ross, said the city is welcome to his property if it needs to widen Ross a little. His concern is with the speed of traffic.

"If the traffic were to slow down a bit, it would be better," he said. "It's sometimes difficult to back out."

The speed limit on Ross is 35 miles per hour.

>> Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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