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Imperial Beach Caltrans slam

"I saw two kids — our neighborhood kids — nearly get creamed this morning."

Delaware Street where it meets Donax Avenue in Imperial Beach
Delaware Street where it meets Donax Avenue in Imperial Beach

A Caltrans project on State Route 75 — Palm Avenue to the Silver Strand — has pushed so much rush-hour traffic into a residential Imperial Beach neighborhood that residents say someone is going to be killed.

"My girlfriend's car was hit.... I can't even back out of my driveway," says I.B. resident Scott Jennings. "Donax [Avenue] is the new 75 and Caltrans won't do anything to help us."

Even Imperial Beach city manager Andy Hall is fed up. "I can't tell you how many times we've called them," Hall said. "It's beyond frustrating."

Caltrans says they aren't doing the work. Spokesman Steve Schultz says the work is being done by contractors who obtained Caltrans permits, but the contractors work for Sudberry Properties, which is building the shopping mall on the south side of Palm Avenue; and Beazer Homes, which is building a 184-unit housing project at the old Bernardo Shores site.

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Residents say the project began in June or July and work may have stopped for a while, but the detour remains. Caltrans documents indicate that the street channels between 18,000 and 38,000 vehicle trips each day.

Caltrans plans indicate the department okayed reconfiguring Palm Avenue/SR-75 from the I-5 to Rainbow Avenue.

The Donax detour is in the western end of the project, a split in the road where SR-75 curves from east-west to north-south in the quarter mile from 9th and Palm to Rainbow, while Palm continues straight west. Donax runs parallel to Palm, one block south. A few detour signs direct south/east bound drivers off the state road and into the neighborhood at 7th, then east to 9th and back. The neighborhood streets are wide, with the kind of visual feel that invites speeding — but for the homes that line the streets.

"It has now become a thoroughfare," said resident Heather Hartley. "There are cars passing cars on Donax."

The neighborhood is catching a double whammy: construction is underway on the Breakwater Plaza shopping mall on the south side of Palm — backing up to houses at the north end of the block. Three streets between 7th and 9th are dead ends looking at construction equipment, grading, and framing underway.

Justin Hartley has seen displaced commuters try to cut back to Palm and end up in a dead end; then they have to turn around and make a left turn into busy traffic.

"I saw two kids — our neighborhood kids — nearly get creamed this morning," he said. "Coming out of my driveway, I get flipped off and cussed at. In front of my home."

The residents are worried about the new 100-room hotel that developer Sudberry Properties decided to put in the Breakwater mall — a sudden change in a project that's been in the works for a decade. Residents came to the city meeting to learn about the project and voice their objections Thursday night (November 17).

The underlying zoning at the project allows for up to 40 feet in height — four stories, and for hotels, Colton Sudberry told the residents.

But then the subject turned to the Caltrans project — one that has even the city leadership frustrated.

"Last week, residents by Rainbow Avenue were calling us — Caltrans told their contractor they could jack-hammer in the middle of the night," Hall said. "We are frustrated. We can't even put a crosswalk on the 75 for you guys."

Imperial Beach is looking at taking over the state road — along with the City of San Diego, where it begins. The City of Coronado rejected the Caltrans offer to surrender the road earlier this year.

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Delaware Street where it meets Donax Avenue in Imperial Beach
Delaware Street where it meets Donax Avenue in Imperial Beach

A Caltrans project on State Route 75 — Palm Avenue to the Silver Strand — has pushed so much rush-hour traffic into a residential Imperial Beach neighborhood that residents say someone is going to be killed.

"My girlfriend's car was hit.... I can't even back out of my driveway," says I.B. resident Scott Jennings. "Donax [Avenue] is the new 75 and Caltrans won't do anything to help us."

Even Imperial Beach city manager Andy Hall is fed up. "I can't tell you how many times we've called them," Hall said. "It's beyond frustrating."

Caltrans says they aren't doing the work. Spokesman Steve Schultz says the work is being done by contractors who obtained Caltrans permits, but the contractors work for Sudberry Properties, which is building the shopping mall on the south side of Palm Avenue; and Beazer Homes, which is building a 184-unit housing project at the old Bernardo Shores site.

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Residents say the project began in June or July and work may have stopped for a while, but the detour remains. Caltrans documents indicate that the street channels between 18,000 and 38,000 vehicle trips each day.

Caltrans plans indicate the department okayed reconfiguring Palm Avenue/SR-75 from the I-5 to Rainbow Avenue.

The Donax detour is in the western end of the project, a split in the road where SR-75 curves from east-west to north-south in the quarter mile from 9th and Palm to Rainbow, while Palm continues straight west. Donax runs parallel to Palm, one block south. A few detour signs direct south/east bound drivers off the state road and into the neighborhood at 7th, then east to 9th and back. The neighborhood streets are wide, with the kind of visual feel that invites speeding — but for the homes that line the streets.

"It has now become a thoroughfare," said resident Heather Hartley. "There are cars passing cars on Donax."

The neighborhood is catching a double whammy: construction is underway on the Breakwater Plaza shopping mall on the south side of Palm — backing up to houses at the north end of the block. Three streets between 7th and 9th are dead ends looking at construction equipment, grading, and framing underway.

Justin Hartley has seen displaced commuters try to cut back to Palm and end up in a dead end; then they have to turn around and make a left turn into busy traffic.

"I saw two kids — our neighborhood kids — nearly get creamed this morning," he said. "Coming out of my driveway, I get flipped off and cussed at. In front of my home."

The residents are worried about the new 100-room hotel that developer Sudberry Properties decided to put in the Breakwater mall — a sudden change in a project that's been in the works for a decade. Residents came to the city meeting to learn about the project and voice their objections Thursday night (November 17).

The underlying zoning at the project allows for up to 40 feet in height — four stories, and for hotels, Colton Sudberry told the residents.

But then the subject turned to the Caltrans project — one that has even the city leadership frustrated.

"Last week, residents by Rainbow Avenue were calling us — Caltrans told their contractor they could jack-hammer in the middle of the night," Hall said. "We are frustrated. We can't even put a crosswalk on the 75 for you guys."

Imperial Beach is looking at taking over the state road — along with the City of San Diego, where it begins. The City of Coronado rejected the Caltrans offer to surrender the road earlier this year.

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