Drivers dodging tolls on SR 125 cause problems in South Bay neighborhood

Neighbors calling on SANDAG, county for solutions

SUNNYSIDE (KGTV) - Drivers trying to avoid paying tolls on state Route 125 are using neighborhood streets to get to and from state Route 54, and that's creating problems for people who live there.

"Somebody's going to get killed," said resident Judy Tieber.

Tieber, along with the Sweetwater Valley Civic Association, created a committee to lobby the county and SANDAG for help. They plan to meet with Supervisor Greg Cox on August 14.

Many residents said drivers are using the exits at Briarwood Road on SR-54, or at San Miguel Ranch Road on SR-125, and going through the Bonita neighborhood along San Miguel Road. People who live there say the traffic is constant, and many people speed down the two-lane street. 

"We used to average a thousand cars per day on this road, prior to the 125," said Jim Groth. "With the toll road, 125, traffic on this road has jumped to 7,000-8,000 cars a day. It’s all for one reason, it’s called toll road avoidance."

The toll between those two exits costs at least $1.55 per trip. That can add up to hundreds of dollars for daily commuters.

Groth said he sympathizes with people trying to manage their budget, and he and the committee think SANDAG should eliminate the toll in that area to encourage people to stay on the freeway.

The problem is especially dangerous near Sunnyside Elementary School, where the marquee out front tells drivers to slow down. The committee says that's one of their primary concerns.

"In the afternoon or the morning when school's getting out, this whole roadway's full of cars with people crossing the street going to school," said Mike Clowers. "Drivers need to know; this is a neighborhood, not a freeway."

A handful of meetings have brought some solutions. San Miguel Road has been re-certified at 25 miles per hour. More speed limit signs have been added and new stop signs were installed at the corner of San Miguel Road and Proctor Valley Road, a popular horse crossing. Flashing lights will be added to signs at the school crosswalk.

The committee hopes SANDAG can do more.

"Yes, they have a business to run," said Tieber. "But they also should have the public trust at heart and know the damage they're causing to this neighborhood."

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