Idaho-Maryland snarl gets a fix |

Idaho-Maryland snarl gets a fix

The fate is sealed for Grass Valley’s notorious intersections.

Thursday evening, City Council members enacted the much-discussed Street System Master Plan, which spells out fixes for the most sticky traffic spots.

“We have a community that is begging us to do something,” Mayor Patti Ingram said. “Here’s the opportunity to do it.”

Guided by the hefty document, transportation guru Dan Landon (Nevada County Transportation Commission executive director) explained its implementation.

First, in mid-2006, workers will install a signal to unravel the Idaho-Maryland/East Main Street snarl. At the same time, the Bennett Street off-ramp will be closed, forcing downtown drivers off at Idaho-Maryland.

Then, down to the Safeway area, where workers will interrupt Neal Street as it goes under the freeway, replacing it with a parking lot. Three coordinated signals on Auburn Street – at Neal, Hansen Way and Tinloy Street – will ease vehicles through the juncture.

Construction at Idaho-Maryland then would give drivers three times as much room to merge when getting onto the freeway.

Voila – for the bargain price of $6 million, the city’s worst jams could be wiped out by the end of 2007.

The plan, which benefited from two years of public and expert input, also suggests improvements for the Brunswick Basin and Main Street in downtown.

It calls for staggering school and business arrival and dismissal times, to spread out the congestion they cause. Plan author Grant Johnson also suggested monitoring the newly renovated Richardson Street for one year.

At one time, Johnson had recommended switching Main Street to one-way downhill and Richardson to one-way uphill. Opposed by both residents and business owners, that idea was put on hold in the final version of the plan.

However, Johnson said he has other fixes up his sleeve if those don’t work.

“We had 10 ideas (that were less popular,)” Johnson said. “These are less imposing.”

Earlier versions of the plan also recommended a throughway connecting Highway 49 north of Nevada City to Highway 20 west of Grass Valley, skirting east of Grass Valley. With costs climbing as high as $60 million and a proposed route through old neighborhoods, that idea was also de-emphasized in the final draft.

In addition to roadway fixes, the plan also promises an end to the delay of development projects. If a traffic solution is identified, financed and scheduled, the development is allowed to progress.

Although it traverses the same route, the street switches will not affect the plan to build a trail along Wolf Creek, Landon said.

The Street System Master Plan is available on the city’s Web site: Click on “Draft Street Master Plan” under the Information Services listing on the right side.

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