Highways 20, 49 to be included in Caltrans Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan
After a meeting on Wednesday, officials agreed to include Highway 20 and Highway 49 in Caltrans’ Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan, which prioritizes interregional transportation improvements to be funded.
In past plans, Highway 49 from Auburn to Grass Valley, and Highway 20 from US 101 to I-80 were listed as Interregional Focus Routes. There were 10 such routes statewide and they were prioritized to be upgraded to their minimum facility-concept standards within 20 years. In the 2015 ITSP, focus routes have been integrated into “Strategic Interregional Corridors” and the highways in the corridors are listed as “Priority Interregional Highways.” However, Highway 49 from Auburn to Grass Valley and Highway 20 from I-80 to I-5 had not been included in the Strategic Interregional Corridors and were therefore not listed as Priority Interregional Highways.
On Wednesday, NCTC Chairman Jostes and Commissioner Carolyn Wallace Dee attended the California Transportation Commission meeting in Oakland, with NCTC Executive Director Dan Landon and Transportation Planner Mike Woodman. The purpose of the trip was to request that in its adoption of the 2015 ITSP, the CTC include Highway 49 and Highway 20 as Priority Interregional Facilities and part of the North Coast — Northern Nevada Strategic Interregional Corridor. Following presentations by the NCTC representatives, the commission approved their request.
Commissioner Dee pointed out that Highway 49 acts as a lifeline route to several communities in Nevada, Placer, and Sierra counties, and is the major interregional state highway connecting to the Interstate 80 gateway to California. She added that to not include them in the North Coast-Northern Nevada Strategic Interregional Corridor will negatively impact state and regional economies. In 2014, Caltrans estimated that I-80 is used to ship an average of $4.7 million in commercial freight every hour, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. She also stated that when I-80 is closed between Emigrant Gap and Colfax due to accidents, construction, maintenance activities, or wildfires; the Highway 20/49 corridors are used to detour truck and vehicular traffic to keep freight commerce and recreational traffic moving and that data collected by Caltrans District 3 Traffic Management Center indicates that between 2004 and 2014 there were 188 closures of Interstate 80 where truck traffic and passenger vehicles were rerouted onto Highway 20 and Highway 49.
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