Nevada City likely to get roundabout |

Nevada City likely to get roundabout

After 13 accidents in the past three years, Caltrans is planning a roundabout to improve safety at the northbound onramps and offramps on the Gold Flat Road interchange with the Golden Center Freeway.

Caltrans officials unveiled conceptual designs for the $750,000 project Thursday evening during an open house for the public at the maintenance yard adjacent to the intersection. The project, paid for by state and federal safety funds, is slated for approval in April with completion scheduled for November 2005, according to Tom Brannon, Caltrans’ Nevada County project director.

While none of the 13 accidents at the interchange was fatal, the frequency of mishaps was enough to spur Caltrans to improve the location, said Robert Peterson, a Caltrans safety adviser. Installing traffic signals was studied but considered impractical because of the proximity of the onramps and offramps, the Hollow Way frontage road and the entrance to the Caltrans maintenance yard.

“Signals wouldn’t be efficient the way the offramps, Gold Flat and Hollow Way are aligned,” Brannon said.

Almost all of the accidents at the interchange were broadsides caused when a driver was either turning left off of the northbound offramp onto Gold Flat Road or turning left from Gold Flat Road onto the northbound onramp, Peterson said. And, Peterson noted, unlike a roundabout, which will physically alter the flow of traffic, a traffic signal wouldn’t eliminate the possibility of a driver blowing through the intersection into cross traffic.

“That’s the beauty of a roundabout,” he said. “It takes away the broadside collision.”

Nevada City Mayor Kerry Arnett said he supports the project, which is in the city limits.

“This is a safety issue,” he said. “The accident rate at this intersection has been climbing. It will increase safety, increase traffic flow and will be aesthetically pleasing.”

Arnett said the Nevada City City Council will hold a workshop regarding the roundabout so the public can give its input. He said Caltrans is open to suggestions about landscaping around the project.

“Caltrans is very agreeable to what we can do inside the ring,” he said. “That’s the kind of thing we want input from the citizens on.”

Between 30 and 40 people attended Thursday’s open house, Brannon said, with most of the input being “overwhelmingly positive.” He did note that Robinson Enterprises, which is located on the opposite side of the Golden Center Freeway, had concerns about the ability of its larger trucks carrying permit loads to navigate the roundabout.

Brannon said the roundabout is designed to handle most trucks, but as far as oversized loads, he said Caltrans will consider the options, including alternate routes.

For more information on the Gold Flat Road interchange project, call Tom Brannon at (530) 741-4181.

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