City Officials Outline Road Improvement Projects, Schedule

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Story makes corrections to properly identify the participants and their attributed contents.

Dozens of concerned residents gathered at Menifee City Hall on Tuesday evening for a special public works workshop intended to educate the City Council and public about upcoming road improvement projects slated to begin as early as late 2013 and extend into winter 2017.

Visitors were given a packet of information upon arrival. After Interim City Manager Rob Johnson briefed council members on the upcoming road projects, he turned the program over to Shawn Nelson, executive consultant to the City Council, and Acting City Engineer Jonathan Smith.

Following a brief public comments section that mostly found residents extolling traffic woes at various heavy-use spots throughout the city, Nelson and Smith jumped right into the business of what the projects will entail.

Of all the scheduled road improvements (see above chart), the project most eagerly awaited and generally regarded by residents as most necessary -- the planned Holland Road overpass -- will be the last project completed. Proposed start date for the project is spring 2016, with a winter 2017 completion date.

When pressed by Councilman John Denver as to why the Holland Road overpass project is last on the timeline, Nelson said the plans have been prioritized based upon need, available funding and project readiness.

The Newport Widening Project, which will widen Newport Road between Menifee Road and Antelope Road approaching Interstate 215, has already been fully designed and funded and will go out to bid in June. Next on the timeline, because of project readiness and available funding, is the Newport Road Freeway Interchange project.

Most of the projects have already completed the preliminary design phase and have funding allocated to them. In the case of the Holland Road overpass, however, there is still some funding that must be acquired from the federal government in order to pay for the project through to its completion.

The list of projects also includes construction of the "missing link" of Menifee Road, completing its long-awaited path north from Aldergate Drive to Simpson Road. This project is listed as "developer driven," meaning the $4 million cost can come from developer fees. It has no completion date and apparently will depend on the timeline for a developer to build on the adjoining land, necessitating the access road. It could be as early as 2014.

All projects will be worked on simultaneously. Though they may not necessarily be in the construction phase at the same time, all projects will be in some phase of the improvement process over the next five years -- planning, design or actual construction. All projects will be paid for by a mixture of county, state and federal funds, as well as some developer fees.

None will require revenue from the city’s General Fund or cause the fund to incur new debt. There were mixed responses from the public at this information, particularly when it was revealed that the estimated total cost for all projects is $69 million.

Council members seem to be working cohesively throughout this process, often being in agreement with regards to budgetary questions, concerns and comments. A major theme throughout the workshop was one of teamwork between the council and associated staff. Several council members thanked Nelson, Smith and the council staff for their work in compiling the data and presenting it to the public.

Nelson, in return, gave an impassioned speech about how the City of Menifee has given him a fresh, new outlook on his professional life after leaving Temecula’s Public Works Division one year ago amidst “mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion.” This elicited a long, loud applause from the public.

Mayor Scott Mann echoed the uniqueness of Menifee’s position as a new city undertaking such dynamic change.

“We did something tonight that Temecula and Murrieta can’t do: We have construction dates, and (anticipated) completion dates," he said. "Once these projects are finished, we will be below 100 percent capacity for traffic circulation, and that stays true through the build-out of our current general plan.”

The next workshop is scheduled for June 4, to discuss the operating and Capital Improvement Project budget. The public is encouraged to attend and to provide public comment. Additional information is available by contacting the city directly at www.cityofmenifee.com or 951-672-6777.


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