Caltrans talks Highway 49 concept: Center barrier, roundabouts on corridor | TheUnion.com

Caltrans talks Highway 49 concept: Center barrier, roundabouts on corridor

The Highway 49 roundabout plan, the Caltrans director emphasized Tuesday, is a concept only.

That concept, formed over the past few days, envisions a center barrier from Grass Valley to north Auburn. It would feature roundabouts, placed every 1¼ to 1½ miles, enabling drivers to leave the highway or change direction on the road.

Traffic lights wouldn't exist. The roundabouts would take their place.

Left-hand turns from a driveway onto the highway could no longer occur. Instead motorists would turn right and follow the road to the nearest roundabout, where they could turn around.

"I don't even have an idea of what the price tag would be," said Tom Brannon, deputy district director, program/project management with Caltrans, at the State Route 49 Stakeholders Committee meeting. "It's going to be a lot."

The idea, formed days ago by Caltrans employees after driving along the corridor, is only a concept. No formal plan exists. If Caltrans pursues the idea, which would take years to implement, public hearings and an environmental study must occur.

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The concept Brannon described would create a center median that Scott Allen, whose daughter Jolie created the http://www.fix49.org website, said many people want.

"It's one of the few solutions to allow a barrier to be put in," said Capt. John Price, with the California Highway Patrol.

Brannon spoke at the committee meeting where members of law enforcement, state employees and people concerned about the highway discussed road safety.

The roundabout plan is a concept only. The committee also heard about a series of projects slated for construction over the next few years on the Highway 49 corridor.

Jim Graham, also with Caltrans, said that flashing beacons at Alta Sierra Drive, upgraded lighting at Brewer Road and permanent radar feedback signs at various spots are planned for next year.

North and southbound acceleration lanes at Wolf and Combie roads are expected around 2019-20, as are two-way, left-turn lanes at Round Valley Road and Quail Creek Drive, Graham said.

A large project from La Barr Meadows Road to McKnight Way is scheduled for around 2023.

That project would widen the highway's shoulders to 8 feet, build a continuous two-way left turn lane and construct southbound right-turn lanes at Crestview Drive, Smith Road, Christian Life Way and Wellswood Way.

To contact Staff Writer Alan Riquelmy, email ariquelmy@theunion.com or call 530-477-4239.