Council delays vote on traffic, growth issues |

Council delays vote on traffic, growth issues

Economic growth and the traffic it brings squared off at a public hearing late Tuesday, prompting Grass Valley City Council members to delay voting on whether to allow more congestion at an important intersection.

Council members will take up the issue at their next regular meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 28, after staff has gathered up and summarized the extensive and lively commentary at a hearing that lasted about an hour.

Council members also watched a simulation of a roundabout, which is being explored as the most likely improvement to the intersection at East Main Street, Idaho-Maryland Road and the Golden Center Freeway.

City resident Pat Wynn said in the public hearing that she had driven on many roundabouts during a year she lived in Europe.

“They work well with light traffic. With heavy traffic, they don’t work at all,” Wynn said. “Europe has very good public transportation. We don’t.”

The computer model of the roundabout, demonstrated by Prism Engineering, showed the roundabout could theoretically improve the projected flow of traffic heading onto the freeway.

The two issues of the roundabout and allowing congestion at the East Main-Idaho-Maryland intersection are intimately related.

Traffic from several business expansions planned for those roads are expected to cause increased delays at the stop signs at the intersection, which is a key entryway into the city. City traffic policy requires that increased delays of more than 2 seconds trigger some measure, paid for by the business causing the increased delays, that would cushion the impact and restore the level of service.

City staff, working with Mayor Gerard Tassone and Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout, recommended that council members create an amendment to the traffic policy that would allow them to accept a lower level of service for an interim period.

The level of service at that intersection already is considered bad at the peak commute hours of 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays.

The amendment would allow businesses and housing projects to continue, while giving city engineers time to evaluate short-term improvements to the intersection that would ease congestion until larger, regional projects could be built.

But if they don’t pass the amendment, those new developments could be required to lower their service to customers as a way of reducing traffic – despite being in a prime retail location, Vice-mayor Mark Johnson said.

Thomas Infusino, a Pine Grove land use lawyer hired by Citizens Concerned About Traffic, warned council members that the amendment was illegal.

While the city’s General Plan does allow for flexibility when solutions are not available or in extraordinary circumstances, “there is nothing extraordinary about this intersection,” Infusino said. Solutions also are available, other opponents argued.

“Who’s going to care about the service levels here if we don’t have any business?” countered builder Mike Reed.


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

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