ORANGE The city council approved a project Tuesday to fix an accident-prone stretch of Santiago Canyon Road, where then-Councilman Steve Ambriz was killed in a head on-collision more than four years ago.
The council unanimously awarded a $587,567 contract to La Strada Contracting to add metal-beam guard rails and a median to prevent cars from crossing into oncoming traffic on the curved stretch of road. To help drivers’ visibility, lights and signs also will be added.
“Unfortunately the wheels of government turn slowly,” Councilman Denis Bilodeau, a close friend of Ambriz, said after the council meeting. “We had to prove that it is a dangerous site, which took time.”
Bilodeau was elected to fill the vacancy created by Ambriz’s death on May 25, 2006. Ambriz was 35.
Sarah Lynn Ward, now 35, pleaded guilty to gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated and possession of marijuana. Under the influence of methamphetamines, Ward crossed into the opposite lane in her pickup truck on Santiago Canyon Road and hit Ambriz’s sedan. She was sentenced to the maximum of 10 years in prison.
The council hopes that the safety features will prevent accidents. Bilodeau, a licensed traffic and civil engineer, took the project close to heart.
“Steve was my friend. It was the impetus for me to get this problem fixed,” Bilodeau said.
Together with former state Assemblyman and friend, Todd Spitzer, the two pushed to get a federal grant through Caltrans to fund around 90 percent of the project.
A groundbreaking is anticipated the first week of October and will include Ambriz’s widow, Bridget, friends and community members.
The project is expected to be finished in early December.
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