A median put in place last year on Mitchell Road to increase safety will not be removed for the sake of restoring easier access to a shopping center on the corner, the Ceres City Council determined on Monday.
However, a solution was studied and adopted.
La Perla Tapatia store owner Gabe Villa asked the council in May to remove or modify or remove the concrete barrier north of Hatch Road to allow southbound Mitchell Road drivers to make left turns into his shopping center. Bristling at that request was City Engineer Toby Wells who insists that left turns would be too dangerous for the section of road, which carries about 44,000 vehicles per day. On Monday Wells reiterated that the intersection of Hatch and Mitchell roads is one of the busiest in the county and that the median prevents dangerous movements within 250 feet of the intersection.
Drivers have always had the option of going further south to make a U-turn at the intersection or proceed eastbound on Hatch Road to enter through the southern lot entrance.
Wells came up with an option that the council likes. The solution calls for creating a new access point along the eastern property line by removing 100 feet of a Hatch Road median, installing a left turn lane, and building a shared driveway on the property line of the shopping center and adjoining vacant parcel. While Wells said the new access is not ideally located far enough from the Mitchell intersection, it's enough distance given that Hatch has less vehicular traffic - 8,000 cars per day.
The option also calls for the city to push the curb and sidewalk back at the northeast corner of Hatch and Mitchell five feet to assure that U-turns can be made on Mitchell Road to accommodate access into the center by most vehicles. Many have complained that the road is too narrow for a U-turn and that a three-point turn is required for longer vehicles.
Mayor Chris Vierra, a licensed engineer, rejected the options to remove the Mitchell Road median or place a break in the median to permit left turns into the center from Mitchell Road as they could before the median. The option would seriously reduce the stacking ability for the two left turn lanes onto eastbound Hatch Road and create further backups on Mitchell Road.
"I can't support #1 to open that back up," said Vierra. "Public safety reason is paramount. I don't like item #2. I think that is a nightmare with that trapped lane but I equally am dissatisfied with how traffic movement has to currently get in and out of that shopping center."
Councilman Bret Durossette said he spoke with the owners of La Perla and that they like the third option.
Wells said the improvements would likely not take place until 2015 since there is no funding source identified. Talks must take place with the adjacent property owner too.