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Santa Rosa Road Project Entering the Homestretch

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches to a section of scenic Santa Rosa Road this week while preparing to step up work on the final one-mile leg of the road that slices through the Santa Rosa Valley between Thousand Oaks and Camarillo.

With four miles already paved and widened since 1990, construction workers are now beginning heavy grading on the last mile of the 90-year-old thoroughfare that runs from Camarillo’s eastern border to the Norwegian Grade.

The one-mile section was caught up in controversy earlier this year when county crews uncovered what they thought were bone fragments from an ancient Chumash burial ground.

Work on that section slowed until an archeologist evaluated the bone fragments.

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County officials now say that Santa Monica-based archeologist C.W. Clewlow Jr. found that the site once contained Native American artifacts, but that they have long since been removed by treasure seekers and archeologists.

Clewlow’s report will go to the county Board of Supervisors next month.

Al Escoto, an aide to county Supervisor Maggie Kildee, said that the board ordered the county’s Public Works Department to take a “go-slow” approach to road construction near the Chumash site until it could be examined for artifacts.

“There was a very legitimate concern about what was out there,” Escoto said. “It was only prudent to slow work and be cautious until we knew for sure.”

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But work to widen the congested roadway and make its sharp turns less dangerous is now back on track, said W. Butch Britt, deputy director of public works.

“The work on the eastern side is just being finished this week and we will shortly begin construction of a detour for traffic on the final leg,” Britt said. “We’re happy with the way things are going. The end result will be a better and safer road.”

Traffic engineers are adding road signs and readjusting lane striping this week after observing the behavior of the estimated 11,000 motorists who use the road daily.

“Because we have widened the road, we began noticing that some people were passing others on the right side, which isn’t very safe,” Britt said. “We are dealing with that by re-striping the lanes and making them a little more constrictive.”

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The county is erecting traffic signs that warn motorists of crossroads and interchanges where motorists are likely to make left turns.

To complete the last mile of construction, workers will first build a parallel road that will allow traffic and construction to proceed unabated.

Britt said the $5.5-million project on the two-lane road has been under way since 1990. It remains two lanes, but the lanes are wider, as are the paved road shoulders. In addition, dangerous curves and hills that obstructed views have been altered.

Construction is expected to be finished by December, Britt said.

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