Search my entire website

From: Mike Stewart,
Date: 04/14/2014 08:17:17 EDT
Subject: Proposed Erwin Lake Convenience Store - Points of Concern

I am submitting this to you for distribution to the Planning Commission for their consideration in their review of the aforementioned project.  I agree with Jason Jones in his analysis of the truck turning issue and have a great many more concerns that I have attempted to enumerate. I felt it best the Planning Commission have this prior to the Planning Commission Meeting on Thursday so that they may consider all the aspects of this development in their review. Thank you for all your cooperation.
Best Regards,
Mike Stewart
2545 State Lane
Erwin Lake

  My name is Michael Stewart and for the past 20 years my wife and I have resided at 2545 State Lane, Erwin Lake.  State Lane is a narrow, substandard roadway, like so many rural roads it is 3” of asphalt on native soil and will not stand up to the traffic this project will bring. I am a Registered Civil Engineer (RCE 24246) and have been the City Engineer for the City of Big Bear Lake and the City of Barstow.  As the City Engineer for a small City my responsibilities encompassed being the Subdivision and Development Engineer, City Traffic Engineer, City Hydraulics and Hydrology Engineer and much more.  I know the development process.

  It is incumbent on us to see that the Conditions of Approval are adequate to assure that the type of environment that we have chosen to live in is sustained (rural life, not City life), maintain the public’s safety and save and protect the Public from future liability. I have prepared a list of points which I think best covers my foremost concerns, but certainly not all of my concerns. I would like to distribute copies to the Planning Commission for you to review and consider as a part of your consideration of this proposed project. I would hope that each of you in your review of this project has visited the site so that you will have seen how unique the Erwin Lake area is and what I have attempted to address in my points of concern.

    Erwin Lake Convenience Store     Points of Concern
State Lane is designated in the SB County Circulation Element as a “Mountain Secondary Highway” (Condition #88) and should be improved to comply with the standards for this designation (Section 3.9 SB County Road Planning and Design Standards), including vertical and horizontal alignment (to include curve radii), width of improvements, two through lanes and one left turn lane at intersections, and a structural section based upon an ADT of 10,000 vehicles per day.  

      My understanding is there is an agreement where delivery trucks (Vons, Stater Bros, and fuel delivery) all use SR 38 to avoid the heavy traffic and many tight curves on SR 18/330.  This means the majority of large delivery trucks and trailers enter Big Bear Valley via SR 38.  The turn off of North bound SR 38 onto East bound State Lane is a very sharp turn currently and has a 25 ft turning radius at the intersection. This turning radius from N bound SR 38 to E bound State Lane requires improvement to a 40 ft turning radius to accommodate the turning movements of delivery trucks, particularly fuel delivery trucks. 
If not improved trucks will cross the centerline on East State Lane into the path of oncoming traffic causing head on accidents and the incumbent liability to the Public that goes with those accidents when there is an inferior alignment that was not adequately dealt with in the approval process.

The intersection of SR 38 and State Lane is not at 90 degrees to SR 38 and should be improved to 90 degrees in order to reduce the turning angle currently of 120 degrees.  Fuel delivery trucks in particular will have trouble negotiating the current turn because of the angle and the turn being slightly off camber.  Turning trucks will also require a wider pavement width than currently exists to negotiate this turn and not cross the centerline (see concern immediately above). 
In 2011/2012 there were two fuel delivery trucks that turned over on SR 38 on their way to Big Bear Valley at two separate locations, both of which were normal highway curves, and not as sharp as this intersection.  If it can happen on a normal stretch of highway, it can happen at this intersection unless it’s improved.

The traffic accident history cited in the Signal Warrants study is flawed. In 2013 there were two accidents at this intersection (I saw the paint markings on the pavement on two separate occasions).  Also, there is a wooden cross on the east side of SR 38 inscribed “Barbara Lowe, Jan 14, 1935/Oct 27, 2009”, indicating a fatal accident had occurred at this intersection within 5 years of today’s date.  Based upon the number of accidents that have occurred from CHP records over the past five years it is my professional opinion that intersection improvements, including left turn lanes, deceleration and acceleration lanes on SR 38 and a traffic signal at this intersection are warranted and should be installed with this project in response to the increased traffic and turning movements it will generate.

120 ft south of the intersection of SR 38 and State Lane begins a horizontal curve on SR 38 which, due to the trees lining both sides of the roadway obscures visibility of and from the intersection of SR 38/State Lane to 800 ft to the South.  This obscured visibility of oncoming traffic traveling at the posted speed limit of 50 mph (73 ft per sec) or greater poses a great risk to traffic entering SR 38.  It takes only 11 seconds to cover this distance when traveling at the posted speed limit.  This is another reason for a traffic signal at this intersection to allow the large, heavy, slow moving delivery trucks to enter the flow of traffic safely, without causing broadside or rear end accidents.  A signal will reduce the vehicular accident potential, protecting life and limb, and protect the Public from liability in the future.  This project can also generate pedestrian traffic from the residential area to the West of SR 38 which is accessed from  Mitchell Lane.  A signal would help to provide a safe pedestrian crossing of SR 38 and protect lives.

State Lane is the primary, and only paved access, to the Erwin Lake area.  As such it is the main ingress/egress for school and transit buses, Police and Fire, Paramedics and EMTs going to calls in the area.  Three winters ago the first power pole on State Lane off SR 38 was knocked down by a car during a snow storm.  Erwin Lake residents were without power and telephone for 18 hours, and the intersection was closed during this time while Bear Valley Electric and Verizon made interim repairs to restore service. This project will greatly increase the potential for accidents of this type.  As an old Fire Chief once told me, “things don’t happen at the best time, they happen at the worst time.”  There are a number of people who reside in Erwin Lake that periodically get visits from the Paramedics/EMTs.  If the intersection of SR 38 and State Lane is closed it will take longer to reach a call.  If a fuel truck turns over the intersection could  be closed up to 30 days, based on prior experience on SR 38, and the effects could be far reaching.

Erwin Lake is very rural, not at all like the “City”, which has a constant “hum”.  Erwin Lake is quiet day and night, and noise carries in the night time air.  This project will have large refrigeration and air conditioning units which will run all the time.  During the warm months when people sleep with their windows open they will get to listen to the “hum” of these units.  There is no mitigation for the “hum”.  It goes with the development.  The mountain (Erwin Lake) environment is different.  We are different.  We live here so we don’t have to hear the “hum” associated with City living. 

Another of the many attributes to living in Erwin Lake is the night time sky with all the stars.  This is not something that can be enjoyed in the “City” because of all the lights at night in the “City”.  This project spoils the rural feeling that we moved here for and brings the “City” closer.

I urge you to not approve this project because of all the damage it will do to the environment that we moved here for so many years ago.  We chose this place for it’s quiet peacefulness, over the “hum” of the “City”
If you do approve it, I urge you to place strict conditions of approval on it to assure that we who have chosen to live here are assured that we will still have the quiet peacefulness and star filled skies, that public safety is provided for, and that State Lane access will not be compromised.
Thank You!
Email to Joe Nix,   or copy and paste