The Pomerado Road barricades that have divided the cities of San Diego and Poway for more than 2 1/2 years will come down today. Officials of both cities announced the accord and cessation of legal challenges Wednesday in front of the concrete barriers that have blocked the former federal highway.
Newly elected San Diego City Councilman Tom Behr, who represents the northeast sector of the city, said a unanimous vote of the council in closed session Tuesday put an end to legal efforts to keep the popular North County shortcut closed to through traffic.
Poway Mayor Jan Goldsmith said the agreement, also approved by the Poway City Council on Tuesday night, includes a cooperative effort between the two cities to solve critical traffic congestion problems in the Interstate 15 corridor.
Although neither city official would comment officially on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering preceding the reopening of the road, both said discussions have been going on for some time.
The four-lane road that links inland North County to I-15 south was closed in November, 1988, after the unincorporated area was annexed by San Diego and the road declared substandard.
Following a two-year reconstruction and widening of the former two-lane, winding highway, San Diego ordered the road blockaded to through traffic at the Poway city limits to prevent an increase of cars through upscale Scripps Ranch.
Before its closure, Pomerado Road carried about 5,600 cars a day. Both Behr and Goldsmith conceded that the traffic count on the improved road will be much higher because of commuters' efforts to avoid congested portions of I-15 and delays along Poway Road, the only other route from the inland communities to I-15.
Poway Councilman Tony Snesko predicted Wednesday that initially the popular Pomerado shortcut will see "just about everybody in Poway driving it, just to see what it's like and to show the people in Scripps Ranch how we feel about the closing."
Snesko said that after San Diego filed an appeal in its attempt to keep the road closed until another direct route to I-15 could be built and opened, he arranged with a local contractor "to bring a tractor out here and hide it in the bushes" to be ready to physically remove the barricades.
However, Snesko said, "calmer minds prevailed" and Poway City Atty. Stephen Eckis persuaded him to abandon the plan because legal rulings were favoring the city of Poway, "and any action by me might have jeopardized the court decisions."
Officials of both cities said Wednesday that the reopening of Pomerado was a "good-will gesture" signaling the intent of the two cities to work together to resolve traffic problems.
Goldsmith said the cities have also agreed to settle on a common name for the alternate route to I-15, now under construction and called South Poway Expressway in Poway and Scripps North Parkway in San Diego.
The route will provide a six-lane, east-west route from Pomerado Road west to I-15 at Mercy Road.
The agreement approved unanimously by the San Diego and Poway city councils Tuesday provides that:
* San Diego will drop its appeal to the 4th District Court of Appeal.
* San Diego will reopen Pomerado Road no later than noon today and will "implement certain mitigation measures affecting traffic circulation along Pomerado Road."
* The two cities will cooperate in joint efforts to speed the construction of several major routes and a trolley system for I-15 through inland North County and form a task force to lobby for regional transportation improvements.
The two cities also agreed to study the prospects of a non-access grade separation for South Poway Parkway over Pomerado Road to deter truck traffic from Poway's growing South Poway Industrial Park on Pomerado Road.
Among the measures San Diego will implement to control traffic along Pomerado, according to Deputy City Manager Severo Esquivel, will be the timing of traffic signals to limit peak Pomerado Road traffic through Scripps Ranch to 700 cars an hour and to favor traffic from Scripps Ranch side roads; restriction of right turns at certain Scripps Ranch intersections to prevent commuters from using side streets through the community; prohibition of truck traffic on Pomerado; increased traffic enforcement; increased time on walk signals across Pomerado, and continued barricading of Spring Canyon Road at Pomerado to prevent commuters from using the street to avoid traffic signals on Pomerado.