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Dorsey Drive project nears completion

A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the completion of the Dorsey Drive interchange took place Thursday.
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

The city of Grass Valley staged a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning to commemorate the completion of the Dorsey Drive Interchange Project. City officials say this new point of access to Highway 20/49 will ease congestion throughout the eastern side of town.

The city expects to be finished some time early next month, but city engineer Trish Tillotson said crews still need to install the signals and striping. As the ceremony started, men with shovels and orange safety vests were still working nearby.

“The city of Grass Valley oversaw all construction, so now that it’s coming to a close we’ll be finishing up the paperwork,” said Tillotson, who has been heavily involved in overseeing this project.



Tillotson said early construction on the $28 million project started about four years ago, but talks and planning efforts date back to the mid-1980s.

“It’s been in the works since well before I moved here,” said councilwoman Jan Arbuckle. “When I got appointed to the city council in 2006, this was one of the things that was being discussed.”




Arbuckle said the new access would ease traffic congestion throughout Grass Valley, but the biggest benefit to the community will be faster access to the emergency room during medical crises.

“If you’re in a critical situation, 30 seconds makes a difference,” Arbuckle said. “I’ve talked to a lot of our police officers, and they can’t wait for this to be open.”

Pat Nelson, a local area resident who attended the ceremony, agreed.

“I think it’s a good thing to have the interchange completed,” Nelson said. “It’s been a long time coming, and it will certainly improve access to the hospital and key commercial areas like the BriarPatch, Sierra College and even Nevada Union.”

“It will make the area off Idaho Maryland a little more vibrant, too,” Nelson said. “I think the prospect of Loma Rica’s further development and the Whispering Pines business park just got a little better. Access is the issue.”

Sean Moss of McGuire and Hester, one of the contractors who worked on the project, thanked the city for its cooperative spirit.

“To bring a project of this size and difficulty in on time takes a few key elements,” Moss said.

Holdredge & Kull, an engineering firm in based in Nevada City, provided testing, inspection and geotechnical advice throughout the construction.

Holdredge & Kull was also able to save the city a significant amount of money when crews encountered an unexpected complication while trying to install the foundation for an overhead sign on the westbound on-ramp.

They were drilling out a 27-foot hole for a steel-reinforced concrete footing, but they hit hard rock.

“Instead of moving high-strength hard rock and replacing it with lower strength concrete, we proposed a rock-bolting method where we drilled some holes and then just pinned the sign to the hard rock,” said Jeff Cox, geologist and marketing director with Holdredge & Kull.

“We were able to save the city tens of thousands of dollars,” Cox said.

“By having some local knowledge, as our company does, we were able to propose some things that saved a lot of money.”

The Nevada Union Marching Band performed before and after the ceremony, which ended with an ambulance symbolically driving up the northbound on-ramp to signify how this project will ease access to the hospital.

Tillotson said the interchange would be open to regular traffic by Nov. 10.

To contact Staff Writer Dave Brooksher, email dbrooksher@theunion.com or call 530-477-4230.


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