Change in sight for traffic situation? |

Change in sight for traffic situation?

Traffic planners are considering whether a roundabout could be a feasible solution for the busy intersection at East Main Street, Idaho-Maryland Road and the Golden Center Freeway.

Grass Valley City Council members will look at a presentation for a roundabout at their meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at 125 East Main St. The presentation, by city staff and the Nevada County Transportation Commission, will include a three-dimensional model of a roundabout with cars running through it.

Large roundabouts are common features in Washington, D.C., and in cities in Europe and Latin America. They are unusual in the United States, but could offer a less-costly option for traffic control in Grass Valley, City Engineer Tim Kiser said.

The California Department of Transportation does not want any change to the intersection that would worsen traffic conditions at the area known as “the Weave” – the little section of southbound Highway 49/20 between the East Main Street and Colfax Road exits, where drivers getting off the freeway weave their paths with drivers getting on.

“Either we find a solution that doesn’t affect the Weave or we fix the Weave,” Kiser said. A roundabout would cost about $1 million to build, while improvements to the Weave could cost the city $10 million to $15 million, he added.

The intersection currently is controlled by stop signs. Drivers come onto the freeway at the beginning of the Weave one at a time.

A traffic signal at the intersection would send vehicles onto the freeway in concentrated spurts, creating a hazard for drivers heading into the Weave.

In addition, afternoon commuters coming off the freeway sometimes get stacked up at the intersection, creating another potential hazard.

Grass Valley already has a small roundabout at the intersection of Sierra College and Litton drives, where the speed limit is 15 mph. A roundabout on East Main-Idaho-Maryland would be “significantly larger,” Kiser said.

The roundabout idea is in a very early stage and is being looked at for feasibility, Kiser said. Councilmembers will not vote on the matter on Tuesday.

Also Tuesday, council members will look at plans to create a sidewalk and bicycle path along Idaho-Maryland Road next to Wolf Creek. The proposal requires the council members to change the right-of-way requirements for a roadway for that road.

To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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