Nevada County Transportation Commission recommends roundabouts for Highway 49 | TheUnion.com

Nevada County Transportation Commission recommends roundabouts for Highway 49

John Orona
Staff Writer

Eighteen months ago, Ellen Hall told the Nevada County Transportation Commission how her family risked their lives navigating the Broad Street and Highway 49 intersection while visiting Hirschman’s Pond.

“It was the most dangerous thing they had ever done and do not ever want to do it again,” Nevada County Transportation Commission minutes state.

Tuesday, the Transportation Commission presented to the Nevada County Board of Supervisors its plan for ensuring families along the Highway 49 corridor between the Nevada County Juvenile Hall and Uren Street intersection won’t have to put their lives at risk to cross the street.

The plan called for adding four single-lane roundabouts at where Uren Street, Coyote Street, Maidu Avenue and Cement Hill Road intersect with Highway 49 in its preferred improvement option, the concept recommended based on optimal funding. The report also featured low cost and interim concepts in case full funding cannot be secured.

“A key part is to get community input for fundable projects,” Nevada County Transportation Commissioner Dan Landon said. “When I came here almost 30 years ago Highway 49 was identified for significant improvements and the funding has never come to fruition.”

According to Landon, this project is unique when it comes to input, funding and process because of how the effort came about, based on community input from a May 2018 Transportation Commission meeting.

“The idea is that because the community initiated this essentially with their input and feedback, that they’d be significantly involved throughout the process,” Landon said.

According to Supervisor Ed Scofield, the community input process for this project compared to Caltrans-led projects has been markedly different.

“One of the things I really like about this is that people have the opportunity to see what this project would look like,” Scofield said. “I wonder why haven’t they done this on some of their other projects? Why didn’t they do this for Highway 174, where the public could really have had an input before they even began to implement it?”

Plan

The plan also recommends adding sidewalk to Cement Hill Road, speed warning signs, crosswalks, flashing lights and raised pedestrian islands. The interim and low cost concepts in the plan focus on adding warning lights and crosswalks in the areas where roundabouts are recommended in the preferred option.

“I want to thank you for looking at roundabouts, we’ve found in our community that they are phenomenally useful in enhancing convenience,” said Supervisor Richard Anderson, chairman of the board. “Whether or not it’s safer for pedestrians I’m not really sure, but overall they are a benefit.”

Although the project stemmed from community suggestions last year, there has been significant effort to improve safety on Highway 49, particularly between Grass Valley and Auburn, for more than 15 years.

Scott Allen, who got involved with safety issues on Highway 49 after his daughter Jolie adopted the cause for a school project nearly three years ago, said all the hard work has been worth it.

“Having another family hopefully not have to go through the pain of having to bury their child, that’s what this progress means to me as a parent of two kids,” Allen said.

The Transportation Commission will now finalize the plan during their Nov. 20 meeting before looking to secure funding for either the preferred or low cost concepts. The transportation commission may come back to the board looking for letters of support to help secure funding.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email jorona@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4229.


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