The long history of Route 395 through Southwest Riverside is taking another twist in the road.
Monday City Manager Frank Oviedo announced that Wildomar will receive up to $125,000 in grant funding to develop a plan for the city’s historic areas, possibly including where old 395 used to travel near Central and Palomar streets.
Oviedo said Wildomar's plan would complement the Jefferson Avenue corridor project headed by the Western Riverside Council of Government, which is currently in a study phase looking at a 16-mile span of Jefferson Avenue from Rancho California Road in Temecula, through Murrieta and Wildomar, eventually up to Lake Elsinore -- areas where old 395 once meandered, and where history still sits.
The idea behind the Jefferson Avenue corridor project is for cities along the route to share planning and transportation opportunities, and coordinate and work toward creating viable business hubs to benefit local residents.
The goal of the Wildomar plan is to review all areas in the city that have historic value, but then focus on planning a particular area. Money to fund project comes from a Southern California Association of Government’s Compass Blueprint Demonstration Project grant.
“Now that we are a city, grants like this are helping us to finally begin addressing our future planning needs,” Mayor Marsha Swanson said in a news release Monday. “I expect once this plan is complete, we will not only be able to use it to preserve our city’s history, but we can also use it to further the city’s economic development goals.”
Councilman Bob Cashman has written about Wildomar’s history in his book, Wildomar (Arcadia Publishing, 2010). In Monday’s news release he said the city’s history is vital to planning efforts.
“As it has been wisely said, ‘The past informs the future.’ These efforts will give me a chance to share with residents the rural heritage and rich history of Wildomar so that we can make informed decisions as we move the city forward,” Cashman said.
Old 395 was once a significant roadway through what is now considered Southwest Riverside. The route entered Temecula heading over to Old Town, up Front Street onto Jefferson Street, then jogged left at Ivy Street and into Old Town Murrieta, then continued north into Wildomar and Lake Elsinore. In the mid 1900s, the highway shifted east through Menifee and Perris Valley.
The Jefferson Avenue corridor could serve as an alternate freeway route from Lake Elsinore to Temecula, according to Murrieta Community Development Director Mary Lanier. Late last year she told Patch that the multi-city corridor plan leaves Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar and Lake Elsinore to consider: "How are our transportation networks connecting? These are areas evolved from country rural areas. Now we're all getting to a point where we continue that dialogue beyond our boundaries.
“By connecting the cities, you have that linkage,” Lanier continued. “It's a very good approach to a more regional transport network.”
But Oviedo said that with the $125,000 Compass Blueprint Demonstration Project, Wildomar residents have a chance to decide how their city should look, apart from their neighbors.
“The grant allows us to shape into something uniquely Wildomar,” he said, noting that Temecula, Murrieta and Lake Elsinore may have different goals and objectives. Oviedo said there will be public meetings to provide a forum for Wildomar voices to be heard.
The community, he said, will ultimately decide what Wildomar’s identity should be.