CalTrans unveils I-80 traffic diversion plan

Wednesday night, the Nevada City Council heard a presentation from CalTrans representatives on the upcoming diversion of traffic from Interstate 80.

The detour is being arranged to accommodate roadwork, raising six overcrossings and lowering three others to meet new federal standards and allow for military and commercial transport.

Rochelle Jenkins, a CalTrans public information officer, says the detour will take place for one or two nights in June – although a date has not yet been determined.

“The big thing is the national defense issue,” Jenkins said. “That is the main reason we’re doing this. It also helps with commerce.”

Jenkins was not in a position to disclose exactly what kind of military assets will be transported on I-80 after the work is completed but according to supporting documents provided by CalTrans the highway is used to ship an average of $4.7 million in commercial freight every hour.

The agency plans to arrange a safety escort for westbound truck traffic headed down from the pass as a way to help prevent rollovers and collisions on the downward grade. Mayor Sally Harris strongly urged Jenkins to provide escorts for eastbound traffic, as well.

There are graded segments of roadway between Grass Valley and Auburn which could present a hazard, but there are also loud noises associated with truck traffic.

“We need you to consider the impacts on our community beyond trucks running over cars,” Harris said.

Jenkins offered to look into the possibility of added safety escorts. She also repeatedly reassured the city council that the detour would only impact Nevada City residents for one or two nights.

In other business, the council approved a final draft of the city’s new housing element in a unanimous vote.

The housing element is designed to provide for the current and future housing needs of Nevada City residents.

Members of the public urged the city to consider the needs of low-income and extremely low-income residents. City staffers pointed out that in recent years, three acres of land within the city have been rezoned to accommodate low-income residences at a concentration of 16 dwellings per acre, but due to economic conditions, those properties have not yet been developed.

In January, the city received notification from the California Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) that the housing element meets the requirements of state law and can be certified upon submittal to the HCD.

The council also approved a resolution allowing the police department to sell five outdated shotguns which are no longer adequate for duty use.

The department’s inventory of firearms already includes more modern weapons, and the shotguns are essentially gathering dust.

This item was originally on the consent calendar, but it was pulled for discussion by councilman Duane Strawser, who had concerns about making certain that the guns did not fall into the hands of criminals.

“They will be selling these to a dealer who’s authorized to handle the resale of these weapons,” said city manager Dave Brennan. “I don’t know who the buyer is, but they have to be certified by the state. It’s not to private individuals.”

Based on Brennan’s assurances, the resolution was approved after a brief debate.

The alternative in this case would have been to destroy the weapons. Officers with the NCPD hope that by selling the weapons to an authorized dealer, they can generate $1,500 to $2,000 in revenue that can be reinvested into the armory or shooting range.

To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, email to dbrooksher@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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The Union Updated Apr 10, 2014 01:17AM Published Apr 11, 2014 11:34AM Copyright 2014 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.