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Supervisors to Consider Santa Rosa Road Project

Safety: Improvements would aim to slow traffic in an area where a teen jogger was hit by a car and killed last year.

July 15, 2002|CATHERINE SAILLANT | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Rural Santa Rosa Road near Camarillo would see a number of improvements, including installation of a traffic light, in a $324,000 project that goes before the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

A proposed new traffic signal at the intersection with Yucca Drive is intended to slow traffic along the two-lane road heavily used by motorists as an east-west alternative to the Ventura Freeway.

Other safety improvements include cutting deep grooves along the road's center and shoulders to warn drivers when they are drifting from their lane. The so-called rumble strips create a noisy vibration that alerts inattentive motorists.

Additional signs warning motorists about speed, no-passing zones and the presence of school bus stops would also be installed along a three-mile portion of the highway if supervisors approve the plan.

The recommendations by the county's Public Works Agency are an outgrowth of community demands for change following the death last year of a 14-year-old Camarillo girl who was jogging alongside the road.

Jennifer Bonds was struck by a car as she turned to cross the road. Law enforcement officials said the driver was not speeding and did not cite him for any violations.

But outrage over Jennifer's death prompted supervisors to look into long-standing concerns about the road's safety. The board convened a citizen's committee to work with county staff and make recommendations on improvements.

The changes that will be considered Tuesday are among the advisory panel's priorities, said Ruth Means, who headed the committee.

"This is just a start and with Supervisor Frank Schillo's support, we will continue to make improvements," Means said. "It's going to be a long process."

Schillo, whose Thousand Oaks district includes Santa Rosa Road, said the proposed solutions make more sense than widening the thoroughfare. Residents of the upscale horse community have made it clear that they want it to remain a rural, two-lane road.

"The county staff is so used to widening roads to make it easier for people to speed through," Schillo said. "In this case, we did the reverse."

Opposition could arise to the staff's recommendation that Yucca Drive homeowners pick up a portion of the traffic signal's cost because the street is a private road. Public works staff is recommending that each property owner be assessed $670 initially, and $15 per year thereafter, to help pay for the light's installation and maintenance.

County traffic funds would pick up the balance of the light's $200,000 cost.

Means, who does not live on Yucca Drive, said the county should find a way to pay the entire cost.

"Studies show that lights slow the traffic down," she said. "Anyone who drives the road will be benefiting because it will be a safer road."

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