Safety group holds art contest
Since forming an ever-growing “Citizens for Highway 49 Safety,” Bruce and Deborah Jones have made a lot of headway in their grassroots fight to make Highway 49 a safer drive.
In their latest push to keep safety on the minds of drivers who frequently travel between Grass Valley and Auburn, the couple will work with Bear River High School and Forest Lake Christian School art students to create signs to line the side of the highway announcing its new status as a safety corridor.
Deborah Jones said the sign designs submitted by the art students – by May 1 – will be chosen to adorn the highway.
“We’re very excited about it,” she said.
Ever since the couple survived a debilitating accident on the highway in Dec. 2003, they have been trying to stir up awareness of the dangers of driving on the undivided, mostly two-lane highway.
After the number of fatal accidents on Highway 49 between Auburn and Grass Valley shot up to 11 late last year, they formed Citizens for Highway 49 Safety and organized a community meeting in January to discuss possible safety measures with law enforcement and Caltrans’ representatives.
Before the meeting took place, the California Highway Patrol stepped up enforcement, getting tough on speeders and unsafe drivers, and Caltrans officials have committed $500,000 to safety improvements on the deadly stretch between McKnight Way and Dry Creek Road.
Tom Wood, Caltrans deputy district director, said new rumblestrips will be installed along the corridor beginning in September.
“Hopefully they’ll be done by wintertime,” Wood said.
In the meantime, the couple has been meeting with local officials, community-service groups and schools trying to raise support to lobby state government for the $200 million needed to widen the highway.
Bruce Jones said he met recently with Assembleyman Rick Keene, who committed to doing anything in his power to secure funds for the widening project.
“He spent over an hour with us,” Jones said of Keene. “It was an education on funding sources. He’s familiar with the organization and was very supportive of our goals.”
To contact staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail email@example.com or call 477-4236.
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