By Lew Avera
Last month’s Views reflected on the opening of the La Pata extension and provided examples of some specific uses and ways to save time. This month focuses on specific data during the initial month.
On August 28, the city of San Clemente established electronic counts for 16 consecutive days of use. The three periods measured were Aug. 24-28, Aug. 29-Sept. 4 and Sept. 5-8. Two periods included weekends and Labor Day. The measures were taken just north of the new Camino Del Rio intersection, uphill northbound and downhill southbound, and measured 24 hours per day. I obtained the hour-by-hour detailed results from the city. Due to space and complexity, only summary data can be provided here. Surprisingly, the data was very similar for both north- and southbound.
For the three periods indicated above, the average number of cars per day northbound was 4,509; 4,432 and 4,290, respectively, and when multiplied by the days per period, resulted in a total of 70,729 trips for the 16 days. Southbound was 4,699; 5,293 and 4,358 per day and a total of 77,978 for the period—some 148,000 total trips into and out of San Clemente for 16 days. The highest trips per day for the three periods were on the two Fridays, northbound 4,922 and 4,793; and southbound 5,966 and 5,667. While it would appear that both communities of San Clemente and eastern Orange County are using the road equally, there is definitely a suggestion toward San Diego travel on Friday afternoons. Finally, in terms of timing, peak times for travel are uniform for both south and north. During weekdays, peak times were 7 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. On weekends, it was 11 a.m. and noon-3 p.m. The latter seems to reflect the later non-business use.
Measured speeds are precise but more difficult to describe. The numerical average speed for all of the trips was 50 mph northbound and 56 mph southbound. The difference seems to reflect on the northbound uphill side. When measuring the speed at the 85th percentile of all speeds measured, it climbed to 56 mph northbound and 64 mph southbound. The top speeds were 76 to 80 mph northbound and 81 to 85 mph southbound.
None of the above reflects on the impacts on Avenida Pico and Avenida Vista Hermosa in San Clemente, yet all of the trips connect to one of the two. In this sense, the elephant is still in the closet. The most severe outcome is the final decision on the 241 Toll Road. At the present time, 241 ends at Oso Parkway. From this point, one mile west on Oso connects with Antonio Parkway, which is the northern continuation of La Pata. If 241 is not fully extended to I-5 south of San Clemente, La Pata into San Clemente will eventually become the final southern leg of 241. Another proposal for the 241 is to end at the eastern end of Pico in San Clemente, which would be even more of a disaster for us.
Adding to all of this is the continued development of Rancho Mission Viejo at the north end of La Pata. Just this past weekend, the new neighborhoods of Esencia opened off of Antonio just north of Ortega Highway. These neighborhoods will include 2,800 new homes as well as a shopping center. For comparison, this will be only slightly smaller than Talega. La Pata will be a major transportation artery for these homes.
For all San Clemente citizens, a major event concerning these mobility issues will be held at 5:30 p.m. in San Clemente on Wednesday, Oct. 5. at Saint Andrews Methodist Church, located at 2001 Calle Frontera in San Clemente. This will be a public forum held by Get Moving Orange County to gather input from citizens. Specifically, it will provide possible “transportation solutions” as well as seek community feedback on the problems and solutions. It would be very positive and helpful for interested citizens to attend.
Lew Avera is a retired career officer, Lt. Col., U.S. Marine Corps. He has been a director of the Talega HOA since 2003 and served on the San Clemente Planning Commission from 2005 to 2013.
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