Grass Valley takes step toward roundabout |

Grass Valley takes step toward roundabout

Grass Valley has officially accepted a wide, single-lane roundabout as the most viable short-term solution to traffic congestion at the intersection of East Main Street, Idaho-Maryland Road and the Golden Center Freeway.

However, officials will continue to look for money to fix “the weave” on the freeway and install signal lights on the adjacent streets as the long-term answer.

“The long-term fix is still to pursue the traffic light” and alter the flow of traffic on Highway 20/49 between the Main Street offramp and the Colfax Avenue onramp, Mayor Gerard Tassone said Wednesday.

Engineers currently estimate that larger project to cost $12 million to $15 million, and to build it between 2012 and 2014, Tassone said.

The state has earmarked some money for that project, but not nearly enough to get started.

But the $1.4 million roundabout can get started this year, possibly relieving rush-hour congestion that is stalling nearby business development.

City Council members voted late Tuesday to move ahead with the roundabout after getting approval for the idea from the state Department of Transportation. The Caltrans District 3 office in Marysville gave the go-ahead in a letter dated March 3.

The roundabout is expected to take 18 months to build. The first steps of construction could start later this year.

But first, the City Council must hire an engineering company to evaluate the project, talk to people interested in or affected by the project, and draw up a design that council members can approve.

Tuesday’s vote directs the city’s engineering department to put out a call for proposals.

Caltrans will not let the city put a four-way signal at the intersection unless the larger factors causing traffic to merge dangerously at “the weave” are solved. A standard signal would put streams of vehicles on the freeway, making it difficult for motorists to safely exit the freeway in the short distance that currently exists there.

Engineers have not yet determined whether a post-roundabout traffic signal would be used with the roundabout, or whether the roundabout would have to be torn out. Many cities throughout the world use them together.

“We will continue to work with Caltrans on it,” Tassone said.

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

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