Planners change course on Dorsey Drive |

Planners change course on Dorsey Drive

State funding woes have forced local traffic planners to scale back plans for building the Dorsey Drive interchange at the Golden Center Freeway, Nevada County Transportation Commission director Dan Landon said.

Instead of building the entire $26 million project in a single blow, planners are looking at a $12.5 million first phase: building an onramp from Dorsey Drive onto westbound Highway 20/49.

If all were go to as planned, the work could start in 2009 and be completed in 2012. The state could start buying out nearby landowners as early as this July, according to Landon’s schedule.

The cost includes construction, buying out nearby landowners and payment for services provided by the California Department of Transportation, Landon said Wednesday.

“By reducing the scope of the project, we can show the state that we have a viable project and viable funding and we can move ahead,” Landon told Grass Valley City Council members when he presented the project to them at a public meeting late Tuesday.

Even the first phase of the project would take a load off the intersection at East Main Street, Idaho-Maryland Road and the freeway. It also would reduce traffic at Brunswick Basin by 15 to 25 percent, he said.

However, the first phase would not get ambulances any faster to Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital, which is a few blocks off Dorsey Drive. CalTrans does not usually permit the construction of a lone offramp but does allow building a single onramp, Landon said.

The eastbound onramp, two offramps and the rerouting of Joerschke Drive to intersect slightly west of its present location would continue in later phases. Those dates are not being predicted.

“We’ll never live to see it,” quipped Mayor Gerard Tassone.

Planners have been working on the interchange for 15 years.

But California’s continuing budget problems and growing demand for freeway improvements has made it harder for Nevada County to get state money to help build the intersection.

The alternative of building in phases would give the county a better chance of keeping $12.6 million in state money already is committed to the project. The county and Grass Valley plan to raise another $1.5 million. The rest would have to be found from other sources, including the federal government, Landon said.

The scaled-back plan was “hard to accept,” said Councilwoman Patty Ingram, who is on the committee working with the county Transportation Commission on the project.

“But if we don’t have a viable project,” Ingram said, “we get thrown out (of the state funding process) and we don’t have any option at all.”


To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail or call 477-4231.

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