Last land deal sets stage for new span over Murrieta Creek
Friday, September 13th, 2013
Issue 37, Volume 17.
The purchases – which will result in the city razing three buildings – are crucial pieces in traffic circulation project that will cost nearly $20 million when Overland Drive is eventually extended across Murrieta Creek.
"That’s a major (project) – the bridge," Amer Attar, acting city engineer, said in a recent telephone interview.
The project, where work is expected to begin in February or March, would become the fourth major traffic circulation improvement to be under way at the same time in the fast-growing city.
"There’s a lot going on right now," said Greg Butler, Temecula’s longtime director of public works who was recently promoted to assistant city manager.
Two major projects – the replacement of the aging Main Street bridge and the first phase of the French Valley interchange – are now in full swing. The Overland Drive extension will now join another project – replacing the congested freeway interchange at Highway 79 South – in the on-deck circle.
In June, Temecula council members voted to spend $5.6 million to buy a final chunk of land – a site that includes a busy gas station, car wash and market – that will be needed to revamp the often-clogged exit and entrance ramps at Interstate 15 and Highway 79 South.
That purchase boosted the land acquisition costs to more than $13 million for the upcoming work aimed at easing traffic congestion at that crucial traffic bottleneck. The cost of that project – including the construction work – will total about $45.3 million when the land, construction and other costs are totaled.
The construction work, which will cost nearly $14.5 million, is expected to begin before July and take a year or more to finish.
Within that time frame, work is also expected to begin on the extension of Overland Drive. That project will be done in two phases, and it will mark the end of another chapter in Temecula’s continuing efforts to connect the parts of the 30-square-mile city that are split by a flood-prone creek and an interstate highway.
The beginning of the Overland Drive saga began about 20 years ago, which was when many residents complained that bursts of new homes in the area were followed by snarled intersections and jammed freeway ramps.
Concerns had intensified by June 1995, when the council agreed to set $4.2 million aside toward the construction of a new bridge that would span I-15 but not provide access to freeway traffic below.
Concerns intensified after the council approved the development of a regional mall at Ynez and Margarita roads. City officials scrambled to finish the $12 million Overland bridge, and it opened in October 1999, just ahead of the Promenade mall. At the time of the mall’sopening, the new bridge that spanned I-15 carried about 15,000 vehicles a day.
The extension of Overland Drive is seen as a permanent replacement for a so-called Arizona crossing that the city opened more than a decade ago at Via Montezuma.
That crossing, in which vehicles pass in and out of the creek bed, is often closed during rainy weather or when the creek’s flow poses a hazard to drivers or pedestrians.
The Arizona crossing is slated to permanently close after a federal project to ease regional flooding dangers extends into that portion of Murrieta Creek, Butler said.
The remaining segment of the work – which will boost the total cost of the Overland relief valve beyond $30 million – has forced two businesses to move and a third is expected to close soon due to relocation difficulties.
The city’s previous property purchases targeted Faith Armory and Audio Evolution. The gun shop has moved and the auto sound business will move soon, Attar said. A deal that was cemented last month set the wheels in motion for the acquisition of the last business to be impacted by the Overland Drive extension.
On Aug. 27, the council agreed to pay $1.4 million to Jim and Terri McGill, owners of Ranch Muffler and Truck Accessories, for their business, building and land at 27499 Commerce Center Drive. The couple’s 6,480-square-foot industrial building is flanked by a parking lot and landscaping that totals another 6,859 square feet, city records show.
The deal, which took more than two years to complete, calls for the city to pay $931,500 for the couple’s property and $343,200 to compensate them for the loss of their established and
thriving business. The McGills would also receive up to $109,100 if they do not move or sell specialty fixtures or equipment from the business.
The deal calls for the city to rent the property to the McGills during the preconstruction period. The couple can rent the property for $1 a month through the end of the year. The rental rate would increase to $2,500 in January 2014 if the business is still operating and the city’s contractor is ready to proceed with the first phase of the project. The rent could jump to
$5,300 the following month if the business still has not yet moved and the city is ready to begin.
City engineers expect to seek construction bids for the first phase of the project, which will extend Overland Drive to the creek’s eastern bank, in four to six months, Butler said. The construction portion of the first phase will cost more than $1.7 million and take about a year to complete.
The construction of the bridge, which will intersect with Diaz Road and Avenida Alvarado on the creek’s west side, will cost about $10 million. Depending on the availability of funds, that work is expected to start in the fiscal year that begins in July 2015, city documents show.
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