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Our Opinin: Traffic reroute good option

June 10, 2002

There may be an option in the Center Street controversy that could work for the city of Westmorland, the county government and the state.

The option calls for the city to redirect some $1 million in grant funds it is to receive from the state — money earmarked for the upgrade of Center — to the county to upgrade Baughman Road just south of the city where that roadway turns east toward Highway 86. The idea is truck traffic would head east on Baughman instead of going into the city from Forrester and onto Center Street.

Funds would go both toward the upgrade of Baughman and placing a traffic signal on Baughman where it meets Highway 86 to ensure vehicles can safely turn onto the highway.

This appears to be an idea that both the city and the county can support. Two City Council members recently met with two county supervisors, other county staffers and state Department of Transportation officials. All, according to reports from the city and the county, have given support, at least in concept, to the idea.

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When you are talking about redirecting such large amounts of money, you are looking at a number of steps and a few years before the project can become reality. That's unfortunate for city residents, but if they look at the benefit in the long run, the idea makes sense.

Commercial trucking traffic has to move safely through the Imperial Valley. Driving from Forrester onto Center Street and connecting to Highway 86 may be the best route for truckers. But it makes no sense to have truck traffic moving down a street like Center, where homes and a park with a pool are located. Pedestrians, particularly young pedestrians, cross the street regularly. If there is an option that allows truckers to safely and expeditiously make their way through the county, it should be explored, and the Baughman Road option might be that option.

We hope there is a new spirit of cooperation between city and county officials over the Center Street issue, with the safety of Westmorland's residents the paramount concern.

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