Nevada City streets to stay one-way; City Council to conduct broader traffic study |

Nevada City streets to stay one-way; City Council to conduct broader traffic study

John Orona
Staff Writer

The Nevada City Council is looking for ways to make the streets of the historic downtown area safer for pedestrians and traffic.

The City Council decided last week to make Commercial and York streets permanently one-way following a six-month traffic study, and ordered another wider-ranging study for traffic solutions on Clark Street.

The Commercial and York Streets experiment showed eliminating opposite-way traffic had no effect on vehicle deliveries and didn’t change the amount of pedestrians or vehicles using the streets. However, the change did reduce congestion and danger caused by cars waiting to pass or turn.

“There’s the same amount of traffic, but no vehicle conflicts because there’s nobody trying to pass each other,” City Engineer Bryan McAlister said. “There has been people going the wrong way, but that’s decreased. At first it was two to four vehicles per hour going the wrong way, but it has decreased a lot.”

Several residents reported witnessing cars driving the wrong way down those streets, one even admitting to doing it themself, and suggested better enforcement or additional, more prominent signs.

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“I have been witness to plenty of entitled people driving the wrong way down Commercial Street, even after it was pointed out to them,” Penn Valley resident Penn Martin said. “To me it’s not so much a traffic regulation issue at this point as much as an enforcement issue.”

The council indicated the signage could be changed to be both more prominent and in keeping with the city’s styling through the Sign Committee, but that ultimately the change has had its intended effect, despite the few cars per hour still going the wrong way.

“I thought there was going to be a bigger flurry of complaints,” Mayor Reinette Senum said.

The council was originally looking at a similar one-way study for Clark Street, but after residents spoke out against the idea, the council decided on a broader feasibility study looking at traffic and safety solutions generally.

“For me I want to hear from people who actually live on that street,” Vice Mayor Erin Minett said. “If they don’t want it to be a one-way, I think we need to respect that.”

Residents opposed the changes, fearing it would cause parking, traffic and evacuation concerns.

“If we make that street one-way, my suggestion is for it to be towards the freeway so the people who live there can still park in front of their house,” said Pauli Halstead, who supported the change but added suggestions. “In terms of fire situation, we do need an exit plan and we need to head for the highway.”

This article has been updated. An earlier version of this article mischaracterized Halstead’s position on the proposed change to Clark Street that would make it one-way.

To contact Staff Writer John Orona, email or call 530-477-4229.

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