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City to weigh in on 190 options
A roundabout at Highway 190 and Westwood Street? How about widening the highway from two to four lanes from Hillcrest Street to Reservation Road? Or perhaps constructing a double cloverleaf interchange with loop on-ramps at Main Street and Highway 190?
These and several other concepts will all be part of a broader discussion Tuesday night during a city council meeting to consider future improvements along the Highway 190 corridor.
For the last 18 months, the city has been working with Caltrans to evaluate the current function of the highway and consider different alternatives to accommodate the growth projected in the city’s general plan, a comprehensive report on projected city growth and development through 2030.
The purpose of Tuesday’s meeting is to inform the Porterville City Council and the public of what has been discussed thus far and to receive input on the next steps to be taken.
“When we present to the city council, our expectation is to show over the course of time what the near-, mid- and long-term improvements might look like in this area and what opportunities and challenges we might face with that,” Porterville Community Development Director Brad Dunlap said. “We really want the public to know that the city council is discussing this to consider the importance to State Route 190.”
The city will provide poster-board drawings depicting potential improvements on the approximately eight-mile stretch of highway. According to a staff report, the study provides information based on a three-tiered approach.
Near-term projects are defined as improvements along Highway 190 that need immediate attention and planning. Mid-term projects are improvements along the highway that will experience failures during the life of the city’s general plan. Ultimate projects are described as projects defined by the general plan that will serve the city well beyond the 2030 general plan horizon.
The study splits the highway into two segments: west of Highway 65, which extends past Westwood Street and is less urbanized and is considered an expressway, and the segment east of Highway 65, which extends to Reservation Road, is urbanized and is considered a rural highway. Each segment would be developed per a different set of Caltrans criteria, Dunlap said.
Near-term improvements on the expressway include temporary improvements to increase access at the Westwood and Highway 190 intersection, which may entail a widened intersection controlled by a traffic signal or a roundabout. The only proposed ultimate improvement on the expressway is a spread diamond interchange at Westwood Street, realignment of the canal and relocation of utilities.
Dunlap said he wanted to stress that many of these improvements, such as the Westwood Street interchange and canal realignment, are very far off.
“It probably won’t happen within 20 years. It could be 30 years away,” he said about a diamond interchange at Westwood Street and Highway 190. “But, ultimately it needs to be accommodated and planned for over the life of Porterville or over the next decades because if growth continues, the capacity on the road system is going to be needed.”
Dunlap said that part of Tuesday’s meeting is going to be about prioritizing projects, and the council will have to consider a number of variables, such as existing traffic on roadways and proposed development, as is the case with the Riverwalk Marketplace Phase II. That project entails the construction of a super Walmart.
“There are certain improvements that need to be made to the 190 corridor as mitigation for the Walmart project that have to happen in the mid-term to make sure the roadway is adequate to accommodate that, and that’s a part of this discussion… what we’re going to be looking for is some direction on prioritizing,” he said. “We’re going to present to the city council what those variables are, what the improvements entail and the area of magnitude costs.”
Dunlap stressed the importance of the study, and said it’s comparable to improvements made along Highway 198 in Visalia.
He said that to get the improvements rolling, there would be an identification of funding sources and said it would be a combination of Measure R, the county’s half-percent sales tax, impact fees, Federal Highway Administration and state transportation funds, as well as grants.
“There’s going to be a lot of different funding sources to achieve these efforts,” he said, noting that when dealing with a state route, there are a lot of design criteria that are required and that it can get costly.
“This is a multi-million dollar endeavor if all of the improvements being looked at for the corridor happen in the next 30 years,” he said.
Costs aside, Dunlap said this important planning effort will not only affect the city, but the county as well.
“It’s really important we all look at the importance of the corridor,” he said. “What we do will affect the area from a mobility standpoint in the future.”
The public is encouraged to attend. The meeting is set to begin at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Community Room on the second floor of the Porterville City Library, 41 W. Thurman Ave.
Contact Denise Madrid at 784-5000, ext. 1047. Follow her on Twitter @DeniseMadrid_.