Caltrans gets public input on Hwy. 49 widening |

Caltrans gets public input on Hwy. 49 widening

The California Department of Transportation held an open house at Grass Valley’s City Hall Wednesday night to get feedback from local residents and property owners regarding the proposed Highway 49 widening project.

“The response has been terrific,” Caltrans spokeswoman Liza Whitmore said. “The majority has been residents that may be affected by any widening we might do on Highway 49.”

According to Caltrans, the project will widen Nevada County’s section of the highway from miles 11.2 to mile 13.3.

The project does not have a definitive time line for completion, but Caltrans, with help from Nevada County Transportation Commission, has secured $6 million in funds for the environmental, plans specifications and estimated phases.

Caltrans will seek the additional funds for construction of the project once the design has been vetted and developed. Construction costs are estimated to be around $25 million, said Caltrans Project Manager Sergio Aceves.

On Wednesday, Caltrans officials answered questions and displayed different options for the project.

Lilly Martinez has lived in Grass Valley for more than 12 years and attended the open house with her mother, who owns property along the highway where construction is being proposed.

“They’re concerned that they are going to get part of their property taken from them,” she said. “(Caltrans) said they don’t really know at this point, they might take part of the property, they might not, they just don’t know. It’s going to take a long time and they would let us know in about a year.”

Caltrans disseminated a “Design Concept Rating Sheet” to give locals an opportunity to rate five different option plans for the project.

Options included canceling the project as a whole, building a four-lane highway with no frontage roads, or a five-lane highway with a continuous two-way left turn lane and no frontage roads.

The two final options included a minimum 22-foot wide median freeway with median barrier and frontage roads, or a 36-foot-wide paved median freeway with frontage roads.

“I wish there was a presentation versus just an open house to help folks understand the options. They’re throwing out some options, looking for a decision without a discussion,” Grass Valley Mayor Jason Fouyer said. “But I think this is a good introduction, hopefully there will be lot more to be had in the future.”

Whitmore said more than 50 people attended the open house, half of whom submitted surveys to Caltrans. Nevada County Transportation Commission Executive Director Daniel Landon said he plans to take feedback from Wednesday to the commission and move forward in trying to find funding for construction of the project.

Currently, Caltrans staff are conducting surveys, preliminary engineering work, and environmental studies for the project.

The project’s draft environmental document is scheduled to be available to the public in the spring of 2017.

Caltrans staff are aiming to have the project’s plans, specifications and estimates completed by summer 2018.

“The feedback today has been overwhelmingly positive,” Whitmore said. “We’ll get the preliminary feedback today and narrow down a couple of the options, and come back to the public and ask for their opinion on those.”

To contact Staff Writer Ivan Natividad, email or call 530-477-4236.

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