A few stats reveal perils of the commute to I-80 | TheUnion.com

A few stats reveal perils of the commute to I-80

The statistic is this: Between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., some 41 percent of the traffic leaving Nevada County at the Bear River bridge is headed for the Interstate 80 corridor – Rocklin, Roseville, Sacramento. Between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m., some 46 percent of the traffic headed southbound out of the county is headed for the I-80 corridor.

One take on the statistics:

The Nevada County Transportation Commission this morning will consider keeping the heat on its counterpart in Placer County to deal with the mess that is Highway 49 through Auburn. It’s right to do so.

The Placer County transportation planners looked at the ways a bypass might be built around Auburn. Late last year, they decided all the alternatives were either too expensive or too difficult.

The problem, however, remains.

Most everyone who lives in western Nevada County is inconvenienced by the stoplight-studded trip through north Auburn.

More seriously, the accident rate on Highway 49 between the Bear River bridge and Interstate 80 is 24 percent above the statewide average. The fatality rate is 51 percent above the statewide average.

While that stretch of Highway 49 lies outside the county lines, it’s clearly the biggest traffic-related headache faced by residents of Nevada County.

The Transportation Commission, then, would be keeping the needs of Nevada County residents in high relief with its proposed resolution pushing for continued study of ways to improve travel from the Bear River bridge to the I-80 interchange.

The commission would be absolutely right to tell Caltrans and Placer County officials that they mustn’t simply let the study of alternative routes gather dust on a shelf.

But Nevada County officials aren’t merely complaining.

They note that the Placer County study of improvements to Highway 49 got hung up on questions of cost. The Nevada County commission is ready to tell its own staff to begin searching for money that might be used to plan or or build an alternative route. That’s a way for Nevada County residents to demonstrate real commitment to the resolution of this problem.

Tomorrow: Another take on the same set of statistics.

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