Nevada City seeks grant funding for highway project feasibility study |

Nevada City seeks grant funding for highway project feasibility study

Nevada City Councilmember Jennifer Ray does not love the way Highway 20/49 runs right through the heart of the downtown historic district. She has something else in mind.

“The overriding premise is that a lot of us think that it was a colossal and irrevocable mistake to put that freeway right through the downtown area,” Ray said. “The freeway should’ve been routed around historic towns.”

“I’m interested in exploring ways to decrease noise and pollution, and maybe consider the possibility of covering the freeway and thereby reuniting the town,” she added. “We’re in the incipient phase of looking for options.”

Right now, that means looking for grant funding to pay for a feasibility study. That study would look for ways to reduce the impacts of routing highway traffic right through the heart of town.

That could involve building some kind of deck over the highway between the Broad Street overpass and the Washington Street overpass, she said. It could also involve a park or public square at some point in the future­ — but it’s too soon for details just yet.

“I don’t have a solid idea of what I want,” Ray said. “I just want to get ideas about what we could do.”

“Maybe it’s unrealistic to cover the highway, but it might not be,” she said. “They’ve done it in other places, like San Diego.”

“It could take another 50 years, but I don’t care,” she said.

Ray said that she’s not alone in this endeavor, but declined to name her allies when asked. The idea to increase beautification and betterment of the community does appear as a long term goal in last year’s version of Nevada City’s strategic planning document — which expired in August of this year.

According to the document, of November 2013 the plan was on track. Ray had contacted Caltrans, and they directed the city to apply for funding for the feasibility study.

It does not, however, appear in the new updated strategic planning document approved by the Nevada City Council Oct. 8.

To contact staff writer Dave Brooksher, send emails to or call 530-477-4230.

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