Nevada County Transportation Commission looks to fund projects in Highway 49-Nevada City corridor | TheUnion.com

Nevada County Transportation Commission looks to fund projects in Highway 49-Nevada City corridor

For years, pedestrians and bicyclists have known of the dangers inherent in trying to cross Highway 49 in the Cement Hill area; a South Lake Tahoe man died in 2017 while running across the highway at Maidu Avenue after Victorian Christmas.

Ronson Sakioka’s death, and the liability to Nevada County and Nevada City, remains under litigation.

But Nevada County’s Transportation Commission is actively working to secure funding to make the corridor ­that stretches from the Highway 20 intersection to Juvenile Hall safer and more attractive to traffic of the non-motorized variety.

On Tuesday, the commission, in coordination with Caltrans, the Federal Highway Administration, Nevada County and Nevada City, hosted an open house to inform the public about the study and to receive public input regarding pedestrian and bicycle travel in the corridor.

The initial impetus for the study came from citizen comments at a May 2018 meeting, commission Executive Director Dan Landon told the assembled crowd.

There is demand for pedestrian and bicycle crossings at four consecutive intersections: Coyote Street, North Bloomfield Road, Maidu Avenue and Cement Hill Road, Landon said, noting that only North Bloomfield Road is signalized and has crosswalks.

The commission secured a grant from Caltrans for planning work for the entire corridor, and has hired consulting firm GHD to oversee that process.

The scope of this project will include analyzing the safety of the intersections in that corridor, including Coyote Street, North Bloomfield Road/East Broad Street, Maidu Avenue and Orchard Street, Cement Hill Road/West Broad Street, the Elks Lodge driveway and the Nevada County Juvenile Hall driveway.

Those involved in the project conducted a field review of the intersections, Landon said, adding that some issues were readily apparent such as lack of sidewalks and vehicle speed.

“We got a great perspective as to why there no pedestrians out there,” said project volunteer Ray Bryars. “It’s not a friendly environment, it’s chaotic.”

Landon said some possible solutions include pedestrian crossings, roundabouts, signals, trails and raised medians.

“We want to hear from you,” he said. “What’s missing, what could be better.”

During the workshop, the corridor was broken into three segments and the audience was asked to mark the maps with tags that represented the major issues: pedestrian safety, bike safety, vehicle issues such as speed, parking issues, or other. Those in attendance also wrote comments explaining their concerns.

“There is a lot of desire for pedestrians/cyclists to cross Highway 49 to/from Government Center to/from downtown,” wrote one attendee. “I do this a lot as a pedestrian and it is never comfortable to cross, even at the signaled intersection at the west side of North Bloomfield (though this is the most comfortable spot). This is just to reiterate what you know: that the desire is there!”

Landon said Tuesday’s workshop was intended to introduce the public to “what is in the tool box” as far as safety improvement projects. The next workshop, tentatively slated for mid-July, will have mock-ups of recommended traffic-calming measures at each specific intersection.

Contact reporter Liz Kellar at 530-477-4236 or by email at lizk@theunion.com.


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