Caltrans safety project gets mixed reviews in Marysville | TheUnion.com

Caltrans safety project gets mixed reviews in Marysville

Chris Kaufman
Special to The Union

A proposed Caltrans project will widen and make safety improvements to a section of Highway 70 north of Marysville, but those living and working along the route have mixed feelings.

The State Highway 70 Safety Improvement Project, estimated at $101.7 million dollars, is tentatively slated to begin construction in Nov. 2020 and wrap up in Nov. 2022, according to a Caltrans fact sheet.

Ron and Pam Shaver, who live in a home built by Ron's family on Highway 70 near Saddleback Lane, say the road upgrades will upend their lives.

"Ron's great grandfather and great grandmother built this house in 1911 by themselves hauling all wood from Sacramento on a buckboard," said Pam Shaver. "They planted redwood trees along the main road, which was dirt at the time, and they placed their home close to the road because it was more convenient."

“A lot of people’s lives are going to change. We’ve been there since the ’70s as a family business.”

— Sarb Johal

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She said, regardless of the ultimate Caltrans plan, their home will have to be destroyed because the of an acre they live on doesn't have the room to relocate the house elsewhere on the property.

"There's two plans," Shaver said. "One has the right of way away going across our front step and the other goes across our front lawn."

Pam said the home was painstakingly built with square nails, lath and plaster and at the time the family was farming wheat.

"They planted the redwood trees on the highway for shade and privacy," Shaver said. "They went to the Feather River a couple of miles away and brought up water from the river to water the trees so they didn't have to use well water."

Aside from a few years serving in the Army, Ron Shaver has been in the house his entire life and the couple has lived there since 1972 and they have been renovating it ever since.

Don Simoni, who runs Mushroom Adventures along the highway near Ramirez Road, said he understands the need for safety.

"I'm for it because of the safety factor, even if I lose some of my property," Simoni said. "A big part of the safety issue is the lack of speed limit signs because everybody thinks it's still 65 miles per hour like in Oroville, but it's scary because you have all those houses buttoned up along the road."

Buck Foster, who also lives in the area, said he's seen some bad accidents due to people making unsafe passes.

"We were part of the earlier phase where they put in a left hand turn lane and I've seen people use that to pass – even 18-wheelers," Foster said.

Simoni and Foster were among the many who were part of a crowd that filled a room at the Caltrans District 3 office on Thursday in Marysville, where a number of Caltrans officials were on hand to discuss project details and seek public input.

Two sergeants with the California Highway Patrol were also on hand to talk about the safety concerns on that section of the road – there have been 11 fatal collisions so far this year and 33 since 2010.

A chart stated there have been 340 collision and 140 serious injuries on that stretch of road since 2004.

Gilbert Mohtes-Chan, public information officer with Caltrans District 3, said the long-term goal for that stretch of Highway 70 between Marysville and Oroville is to create a continuous 5-lane highway.

Mohtes-Chan said Caltrans Right of Way Agents go through the same process as real estate agents and provide fair market compensation for acquisition.

"We are still determining the final design alignment for the project," Mohtes-Chan said. "Once we determine the final project alignment, we will be contacting each property owner about the acquiring the necessary right of way."

Sarb Johal, who has a receiving station and several orchards, said the station and many of his orchards will be impacted.

"A lot of people's lives are going to change," Johal said. "We've been there since the '70s as a family business."

There will be more meetings planned for this project.

Chris Kaufman is a reporter for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat. Contact him at ckaufman@appealdemocrat.com.

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