Roundabout might not come about
When “weave movements” are discussed in Grass Valley, the topic isn’t about looms, but traffic on the Golden Center Freeway.
The Nevada County Transportation Commission studied the idea of installing a signal at Idaho-Maryland Road and East Main Street to tame the tangled intersection. But Caltrans nixed that idea, saying that too much traffic would be spit onto the Golden Center Freeway at one time, exacerbating the dangerous weave movement of vehicles merging onto and off of the highway.
So instead of a traffic signal at the intersection – which has in the past logged more than 2,000 vehicles in an hour – the county studied the feasibility of a traffic roundabout. Dan Landon, executive director of the transportation commission, said a roundabout would still put vehicles on the highway, but at a steadier rate than a signal.
However, the roundabout plan is now in question. Caltrans has again expressed concerns about the number of vehicles that would use the freeway on ramp and potentially worsen the weave movement that occurs when vehicles exit the freeway at the Bennett Street off-ramp, Landon said.
“The question is, how do you get at the root of the problem,” he said.
The answer may lead south to the South Auburn Street on ramp. The county is now looking at an option that would “channelize” traffic from the Idaho-Maryland on ramp to the Bennett Street off-ramp and then along the frontage road to Colfax Avenue in order to enter the freeway at the South Auburn on ramp.
“The weave problem there is not as bad,” said Rudi Golnik, Grass Valley public works director.
But if traffic is channeled to what Golnik called the “devil’s triangle area,” where the frontage road, Colfax Avenue, South Auburn Street and Neal Street converge, improvements would have to be made there, as well. Considering the costs to upgrade the Idaho-Maryland and East Main intersection, it may be a viable option.
“The devil’s triangle has a fairly high accident history,” Golnik said. “The intersection is something that is on our hit list already.”
Moving traffic south, Landon said, would relieve the weave of cars at the Idaho-Maryland on ramp and then allow the intersection with East Main Street to be signalized.
But, he said, “we just don’t want to cause a problem somewhere else,” he said. “We’re looking at (the South Auburn on ramp) alternative so we can say to the decision-makers we have left no stone unturned.”
Meanwhile, if an analysis of the frontage road plan shows unacceptable impacts, Landon said the county is continuing its study of the roundabout proposal. By doing them simultaneously, the intersection project will remain on schedule regardless of which plan is chosen. The two tasks will be completed by the end of the month, he said.
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