Despite cuts, interchange project still on |

Despite cuts, interchange project still on

A $12.7 million Dorsey Drive interchange project on Golden Center Freeway remains immune from California’s unprecedented budget deficit, according to officials.

A construction time line is in place, plans are being drafted and the funding is there. And nothing yet indicates the project will be axed or postponed because of the state’s $34 billion deficit.

“That will be something I’ve never seen in my 18 years of experience,” Nevada County Transportation Commission Executive Director Dan Landon said Monday.

That doesn’t mean the project is a shoo-in.

“We have no grip whatsoever, reason being the budget process is ongoing,” Caltrans spokesman Mark Dinger said.

Interchange advocates say it would provide a closer access to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital in Grass Valley and ease what has been called “the weave” on the freeway’s southbound lanes between the entrance at East Main Street and exit at Bennett Street in Grass Valley – where motorists scramble to merge off or on the freeway in a short distance.

Critics, such as retired county planner Sharon Boivin, say it is premature to pick Dorsey Drive as the best spot for an interchange.

Possibly more appropriate, she said, would be an interchange further south, to connect with Grass Valley’s Hughes Road. That would spare more noise and disruption at Dorsey-area sites, such as the convalescent hospitals and apartments.

“Maybe there’s a way to mitigate the impact on Dorsey Drive,” Boivin said, “but I’m not convinced that Dorsey will be the most environmentally benign location for the interchange.”

She plans to chime in when or if the project reaches the public hearing stage.

Meanwhile, Landon said, the county transportation commission has just completed a traffic model of the project, which Caltrans will use to prepare a computerized traffic simulation.

For now, the project schedule calls for bids to be listed July 2007, with construction completed by the fall of 2009.

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