Nevada City council discusses closing National Alley | TheUnion.com

Nevada City council discusses closing National Alley

A vehicle pulls into National Alley Thursday afternoon in Nevada City. Nevada City officials are considering the closure of the roadway adjacent to the remodel of the National Exchange Hotel.

A proposed "vacation" of National Alley as a public right of way needs to overcome a few hurdles before receiving approval from Nevada City officials.

Most notably, a study needs to be done to determine the potential traffic impacts from closing off the alley between Broad Street and the Spring Street parking lot behind the National Hotel.

The alley, which runs alongside the historic hotel between the building and a narrow parking lot fronting the highway, is used by many as a shortcut to public parking behind the hotel.

After the National Hotel was purchased in February, new owner Jordan Fife asked to close off the alley and relocate utility easements, with a new pedestrian walkway to be installed.

City planning staff told the city council on Feb. 28 that abandoning streets had been done in the past. In 1968, Nevada City vacated portions of Uren and Main streets due to the construction of the freeway. They also noted Caltrans has never wanted drivers to use National Alley to access the parking lot, as it stacks traffic up into the intersection of Broad Street and Union Alley.

The issue was referred to the planning commission to consider whether closing the alley conforms with the city's General Plan.

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After a March 15 hearing, the planning commission determined vacating National Alley would not be an issue, subject to several recommendations. On Wednesday, the council approved those recommendations.

The police and fire departments need to sign off on the proposal, the commission said. The fire department already has issued its recommendation, which involves relocating a connection for the fire sprinkler system.

According to the city engineer, public utility easements also need to be considered, because city water and PG&E are located in the alley. If relocation of the utilities is requested, the cost would need to be paid by the National Hotel owner.

The city's expense and the public benefit need to be considered, with the city making sure that Nevada City is obtaining equal value for the exchange of the alley for the pedestrian walkway.

The circulation study must be conducted to evaluate the impact of the closure on the intersections of Broad and Spring streets, and Spring and Pine streets.

City Planner Amy Wolfson told the council she is preparing the initial study required by the California Environmental Quality Act. City engineering staff have been conducting traffic counts under current conditions. Wolfson said they also plan to conduct a traffic count with National Alley closed so that they can quantify the impact.

That closure is expected some time within the next six weeks and will last 14 days, Wolfson said.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.

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