Residents will soon be able to take Butterfield Stage Road north all the way to Murrieta Hot Springs Road.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to look for contractors to lengthen Butterfield Stage through a vacant construction site in Wine Country and connect it to Murrieta Hot Springs.
The project will also put in a traffic signal at Butterfield Stage and Murrieta Hot Springs roads.
The city will build the project – which will cost $9.6 million – in two phases. First, it will extend Murrieta Hot Springs east past Pouroy Road into the unfinished 800-acre Roripaugh Ranch housing development and connect it with a dirt path already laid out to support the Butterfield Stage Road extension. Then, crews will lay asphalt on the path and connect it with Calle Chapos.
The second phase, which is much shorter in length, will stretch Butterfield Stage from Calle Chapos to La Serena, where a portion of the road is built.
Today, the road is barricaded about a block away from where the pavement ends over a cliff.
The project is divided into two phases because of its complexity and because of right-of-way issues, a city report said. Today, a large ranch sits directly where the second phase is slated to go.
The new stretch of road will get rid of some of the northbound traffic near Rancho California and Butterfield Stage roads, locals said.
Traffic builds up on a small street used to detour around the south end of Butterfield Stage, said John Pelack, 53, who lives just yards from where Butterfield dead-ends.
Now, vehicles take La Serrena Way to wind north through a residential area, even near a local park. “It’ll be helpful to get traffic away from the park,” Pelack said.
A new route between Murrieta Hot Springs and Rancho California Roads will also lessen stressful rush hour drives, residents said.
“There’s so much traffic on the streets now, especially during business hours,” said Donna Crosely, 53, a Temecula homeowner who lives near the proposed Roripaugh Ranch development. “And the road is just a dead end right now.”
An unused fire station sits alone on a dirt road in the unfinished housing development, a sign of the Roripaugh Ranch’s complicated story.
Roripaugh Ranch covers more than 800 acres between Murrieta Hot Springs and Rancho California roads. It was supposed to be a massive housing development, but today, it’s nothing but dirt roads and graded earth surrounded in barricades and chain-link fences.
Ashby U.S.A. first won the city’s approval for the development in December 2002, city documents show. Then the economy tanked, and the firm filed for bankruptcy in 2008, defaulting on the debts it owed to the city and to local contractors for work they completed on the project.
The development firm failed to hold up its end of the bargain, leaving Butterfield Stage Road, which was to connect the community to major local thoroughfares, incomplete.
The city offered up bond money to pay off liens and debts associated with the project in 2009, bringing hope that development could continue, city records show.