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By Kim Harris
Managing Editor 

UPDATED: Lake Elsinore announces steps to ensure public safety during 'Poppy Apocalypse'

Shuttle buses will be the only way to get to poppies, officials say

 

Last updated 3/23/2019 at 11:41am

City of Lake Elsinore

UPDATED STORY: Thursday, March 21, 3 p.m.

The city of Lake Elsinore announced in a news conference today, the steps it will take to manage and minimize impacts on Walker Canyon and city residents during the remainder of this year's super bloom.

From road closures to shuttle only service to Walker Canyon, the city hopes its efforts to reduce the impact to residents while enabling a safer environment for poppy viewing.

"Today's press conference is to share our unified approach including encouraging our residents to support our efforts and avoiding the area if possible, while also inform our visitors how to safely view and experience this natural event," Nicole Dailey, assistant to the Lake Elsinore city manager, said.

Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos, along with Lake Elsinore's Police Chief Michael Lujan, CHP Area Commander Capt. John Tyler, County of Riverside Parks' Chief of Parks and Resources, Dustin McLain, Caltrans Deputy District Director Catalino Pining and Assistant CEO- TMLA Director Juan Perez from the County of Riverside Department of Transportation, were all on hand to take questions from the press.

According to Lujan the city worked in conjunction with numerous public safety agencies to develop a plan which includes shuttle bus only access to the site, increasing available resources and support and implementing additional traffic control measure to include road closures throughout the city.

This has been a crisis never experienced before, unlike anything we have faced in Lake Elsinore," Lujan said of the super bloom which has caused long wait times, backed up traffic and other public safety concerns. "As the crowds have increased so have the needs for public safety associated with the super bloom."

Lujan said the group, which included CHP, Cal Fire, Riverside County Sheriffs Department, Caltrans, Riverside County Emergency Management and city officials had created a unified approach to manage the natural event moving forward.

"This plan involves support and resources from all partnering agencies and focuses on public safety," he said.

According to Lujan, the plan will run from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. He said the Riverside County Sheriffs Department will deploy up to 40 deputies to the area who focus on traffic control and enforcement. Road closures will include several residents-only routes with no visitors and no access to the poppies.

"Full hard closures will be in place on all offramps at Lake Street," Lujan said, noting plans could change. "On the weekends all visitors to the super bloom will be required to take the shuttle services to Walker Canyon. There will be no available parking on Walker Canyon or Lake Street and no parking for pedestrians to walk along Lake Street or Walker Canyon."

The only way to access Walker Canyon will be via shuttle service which will cost $10 per person, with those aged 3 and under sitting in a parent or guardian's lap shuttles riding free. Shuttles will run beginning at 6:30 a.m. with the last shuttle leaving for walker canyon at 5 p.m. The last shuttle is scheduled to return to one of the two designated parking areas, located at the Lake Elsinore Outlet Mall to the north and Nichols Road from the south, at 7 p.m.

Dogs and animals will not be allowed on shuttles so those bringing pets are encouraged to visit during the week when parking will be available for drivers along Walker Canyon.

To reach the Nichols Road parking area, exit interstate 15 then turn right into the adjacent dirt parking lot. While the city is charging for the shuttles to offset the cost to the city, parking is free of charge.

"We ask our visitors to be patient as we try to balance the needs of our community and those coming to visit our beautiful hillsides," Lujan said. "I would like to encourage our residents to heed our warnings and avoid these areas impacted as much as possible."

Lujan said if the city found they could not adequately enforce the rules in place and protect those who live in the community, they city would adjust plans as necessary, to include more road closures and even shutting down poppy viewing.

In addition to Lake Street offramps from Interstate 15, road closures include Lake Street northbound from Temescal Canyon Road to Nichols Road and Nichols Road westbound from Lake Street to Collier Avenue.

Resident routes will also be in place with all detours clearly marked. Currently residents entering Lake Elsinore from the north will exit Interstate 15 at Indian Truck Trail and use Temescal Canyon Road to enter the city.

Residents entering the city from the South should exit Bundy Canyon Road or Railroad Canyon Road to enter the city. Ortega Highway is also a recommended route.

During the height of the poppy frenzy Sunday, March 17, the California Highway Patrol had a running report of motorists' activities as they approached the city of Lake Elsinore's Lake Street exit off Interstate 15.

Everything from children playing on the side of the freeway to people parking and exiting their vehicles as they walked their dogs, appeared on the CHP incident page at https://cad.chp.ca.gov/Traffic.aspx. Reports of people picking poppies on the side of the freeway along with hundreds of vehicles stopping and opening their car doors, preventing other vehicles from moving through the area, was also reported.

One update from the CHP, which was ticketing those parked illegally, reported "thousands of vehicles" stopping to view the flowers with "children walking down the freeway."

The city was forced to close the area for poppy viewing several times over the past week, due to the huge influx of visitors, but hopes the expanded safety measure will cut down on traffic and keep both residents and poppies safe.

For more on this story, check http://www.myvalleynews.com.

ORIGINAL STORY:

The city of Lake Elsinore announced in a news conference on Thursday, March 21 the steps it will take to manage and minimize impacts on Walker Canyon and city residents during the remainder of this year's super bloom.

Steps include increasing available resources and support, implementing additional traffic control measures, increased enforcement, expanded public notices, and improved access plans that ensure the overall safety of those visiting Walker Canyon while also reducing the impact to residents.

Lake Elsinore Mayor Steve Manos, along with Lake Elsinore's Police Chief Michael Lujan, CHP Area Commander Capt. John Tyler, County of Riverside Parks' Chief of Parks and Resources, Dustin McLain, Caltrans Deputy District Director Catalino Pining and Assistant CEO, TMLA Director Juan Perez from the County of Riverside Department of Transportation, were all on hand to take questions from the press.

Long wait times, backed up traffic and other public safety concerns caused the city to bring in all available staff and eventually shut the viewing down nearly every day of the past week.

Courtesy photo

This map shows the resident detours which will be in place in Lake Elsinore March 23 and 24, from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. while shuttle buses are running to Walker Canyon for poppy viewing.

During the height of the poppy frenzy Sunday, March 17, the California Highway Patrol had a running report of motorists' activities as they approached the city of Lake Elsinore's Lake Street exit off Interstate 15.

Everything from children playing on the side of the freeway to people parking and exiting their vehicles as they walked their dogs, appeared on the CHP incident page at https://cad.chp.ca.gov/Traffic.aspx. Reports of people picking poppies on the side of the freeway along with hundreds of vehicles stopping and opening their car doors, preventing other vehicles from moving through the area, was also reported.

One update from the CHP, which was ticketing those parked illegally, reported "thousands of vehicles" stopping to view the flowers with "children walking down the freeway."

The city hopes the expanded safety measure will cut down on traffic and keep both residents and poppies safe.

This is a breaking news story, for the full story check http://www.myvalleynews.com.

 

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