Calls for action on State Route 158 in June Lake regarding pedestrian safety and traffic became a focal point at the June Lake Citizen’s Advisory Committee (CAC) meeting on June 2.
Lianne Talbot, safety engineer with Caltrans, discussed the issue with the CAC and fielded questions about what the transit authority is able to do to help out.
Talbot said that Caltrans had fielded a request to look into potentially installing crosswalks in June Lake, a task that she said will require an engineering study.
Encompassed in that study are pedestrian counts, collision history, and traffic volume. To aid the study, she asked for input from residents about where they felt safe crossing zones were needed within the Loop.
Talbot said the study could take place within the 2021-2022 fiscal year over a span of one to three months, adding, “We have to get up there and deploy and do an actual pedestrian count.”
The process for doing so involves installing cameras, capturing footage of the areas in question, and processing the data that the footage reveals.
“I’ve long wanted 25 miles per hour [mph] flashing signs on either end of the village,” CAC member Ann Tozier said, citing the signs along 395 on both sides of Lee Vining as an effective calming measure.
“That’s something we can explore,” Talbot said, adding, “We did do engineering and traffic study for speed limits last year [on SR 158] and 85% of the vehicles are going 27 mph or less.” According to Talbot, that study took place in June 2020.
Mono County Community Development Director Wendy Sugimura said the county has sustainable transportation
grant money available for SR-158 and the June Lake Loop in the coming months. Money from that grant, she explained, can go towards multi-modal facilities, traffic calming, pedestrian and bicycle facelifts.
Tozier also brought up the question of crossings outside of June Lake Village, and pointed to the section of SR-158 near Rush Creek as an example.
The current speed limit in that area is 55 mph. “That’s insane,” Tozier said, “It really should be 45 miles per hour.”
Changing that number, Talbot explained, can be considered but is easier said than done.
“Once a conventional highway is set at 55 mph, that’s the max speed per the vehicle code,” she said, “The only way we can do it is by a study that has to prove 85% of vehicles are driving less than 55 miles per hour.”
“Has June Lake looked at taking over SR-158, taking it over from Caltrans and putting it in the county’s purview?” Caltrans District 9 Senior Transportation Planner Mark Heckman asked, “We don’t need the highway; it’s actually on our list to relinquish.”
“Why would we do that?” Mono County Supervisor Bob Gardner responded.
According to Sugimura, taking on the responsibility would be outside of the CAC’s authority, although it could make a recommendation to the proper authority. She also noted the ongoing conversations and complications surrouding responsibility of State Route 203 in Mammoth as evidence of what that path can look like.
Gardner inquired about the cost of assuming SR-158, as all snow removal, maintenance and operations on the road would become the county’s responsibility.
Heckman said that those parts of the relinquishment are negotiated during a memorandum of understanding (MOU) process.
One issue that CAC member Sarah Crawford brought up is the avalanche mitigation system along SR-158. David Rosky suggested, in the event that the county assumes control of SR-158, that Caltrans and the county could divide sections of the road between them.
Ultimately, no significant motions were made regarding the matter. Regarding the crosswalks, the CAC committed to gathering input from June Lake residents about the best spots for crosswalks, to be completed and brought back to Caltrans within a matter of weeks.
In other CAC news …
Supervisor Gardner gave a rundown of the issues at Grant Lake. He said that volunteers have removed 70-80 fire rings around the lake and hauled out an assortment of trash, including a full bathtub, from the waterfront.
Fires, he said, were a constant threat over Memorial Day weekend. 3 fires were reported Friday, 5 were reported on Saturday, and 10 were reported on Sunday. “To my knowledge, no one was cited,” Gardner said, “We’re hoping that people will get the message.”
“I don’t understand the reticence to fine people,” said Tozier, “You’re not necessarily getting repeat people … If a fire goes up, all of our homes could be destroyed, then there would be no visitors in a burned out Loop.”
Said Gardner: “I think we’re headed in that direction sooner rather than later.”