Master plan allows for Highland Springs Avenue extension

Black lines depict a frontage road concept that was part of the original general plan. The red lines portray the approved extension of Highland Springs Road, as reflected in the amended general plan.

Banning moves a step closer to working on an alternate route to and from Highland Springs Avenue, with city council’s approval of a general plan amendment Tuesday.

The previous general plan called for an extension to go from Highland Home Road to Lincoln Street.

Public Works Director Art Vela told the Record Gazette that he had reached out to the property owner in an effort to acquire the right-of-way that would have allowed the city to make a parallel road to the I-10 freeway at that point.

He concedes that his efforts have been in vain.

Fortunately, the city came across an old parcel map approved in 1990.

A right-of-way that sits among part of a 300-acre parcel along Westward Avenue has come under the auspices of the city of Banning, which for the time being the city will use to provide rights-of-way for an extension of Sun Lakes Boulevard.

That former Five Bridges Development properties essentially will connect the tail end of Sun Lakes Country Club to Mt. San Jacinto College’s Banning campus, and provide a parallel frontage road to the freeway for points south of the retail mecca of Beaumont.

On Aug. 28, 1990, out 294.73 acres on four parcels of land, 10 separate lots totaling 27.13 acres were offered up by a developer referred to as The San Gorgonio Venture, and now owned by Corona-based Lennar Homes of California, Inc. for dedication to the city for public use, specifically street and public utility purposes.

At the time the city reportedly elected to not accept the offers of dedication, but reserved the right to accept the dedications on behalf of the public at a later date.

That date officially was Feb. 11.

It is common for developers to agree to cede parts of property for rights-of-way, or to dedicate areas such as streets, sidewalks and landscaping areas to municipalities so that they can be maintained, or so that cities can lay utility infrastructure.

The land is bordered to the north by the I-10 freeway and south by the eventual Sun Lakes Boulevard extension, and flanked on the west and east by (the prolongation of) Highland Home Road and Sunset Avenue.

It will not necessarily be a straight shot: the amended general plan portrays the extension of Highland Springs Avenue, which will meet essentially near the Pass area’s Mt. San Jacinto College campus, with a couple of slight anomalies where engineers hope to avoid at-grade utility and drainage crossings.

It would be too costly to raise the road in those spots, and the city would have to move a multitude of utilities from water and sewer pipes and fiber optic cables to electric and gas utilities, according to Public Works Director Art Vela.

Instead, storm drain crossings will be built in those two areas.

For now, Vela says, the project will be paid using Measure A funds, though eventually the city expects to receive funding through the regional Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fees.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , and messages may be left at (951) 849-4586 x114.

Staff Writer David James Heiss may be reached at dheiss@recordgazette.net , or by calling (951) 849-4586 x114.

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