Jeff Ackerman: This tangled traffic web we weave
Before we assume that the best traffic solutions come from professional planners, remember the Grass Valley Post Office design. Have you ever actually tried to access that parking lot heading west on East Main Street? Ever wonder what they were thinking when they allowed a post office to locate there?
I think about traffic almost every day. I thought about it this morning, as a matter of fact. I wondered why they haven’t actually turned on the traffic signals they installed at the intersection of Sierra College Boulevard and Ridge Road. Maybe they’re waiting for summer, when school is out and we don’t need a traffic signal at that intersection because we don’t have that much … you know … traffic? I left a message at City Hall Monday afternoon, and I’m waiting for a reply. Could be they’re just trying to save electricity.
Then there is that beautifully designed Brunswick Basin, the subject of much debate every time someone wants to open a drugstore, supermarket, car lot or fruit stand. I know … we don’t need another drugstore, supermarket, car lot or fruit stand. We need an In-N-Out Burger.
Until then, I have a little idea how we can at least relieve some of the pressure from that four-way intersection at Brunswick and Sutton. What if we pushed through the north end of Sutton Way – where it dead ends – and created an on-ramp to Nevada City? That way, motorists leaving the Safeway/Longs parking lot could simply turn right and head on up the hill to Nevada City, avoiding the four-way intersection altogether.
I’ll bet we could do that for $250,000 or so, once the right-of-way is secured. In fact, we could have done it for a LOT less back when folks who moved here from Los Angeles first started complaining about a 30-second wait at a stoplight. But we don’t do things the simple way around here. We study them 20 or so years and then debate them for another 20 years. Then we start all over with the studies and debates until we forget what we were studying and debating. It’s a sport, the source of much entertainment between those who like drugstores and those who like drugs not from stores.
Same goes for the Dorsey Drive Interchange. They’ve been talking about that one so long the price has increased from three goats and a donkey to six gazillion dollars. We could have built that one for $100 back in 1893 when planners first proposed a better way to get a horse buggy from one end of town to the other. City leaders even proposed to pay for it with a penny tax on every pound of manure. It failed in a ballot measure by two votes because most voters didn’t know that a yes vote actually meant no.
Then there is the Staples parking lot across the street from us. I often grab a cup of coffee and just look out my office window, where within just a few seconds, I’ll see at least six collisions and 16 near misses. One day I saw this older couple drive out of the parking lot with both rear doors open wide, exposing a row of bagged canned goods.
Another day, two ladies jumped from their SUVs and started pounding each other with burritos. Several witnesses from the health food store tried to separate the two with sacks of tofu, all to no avail. There was food everywhere.
Then there is the parking problem in Grass Valley. That downtown area doesn’t have a traffic problem, it has a parking problem. Traffic is caused by motorists forced to circle the block six times to find a parking spot for lunch. My friend, Howard, has been saying that forever, and still they won’t build a public parking garage because they keep adding stuff to the sales tax initiative that has nothing at all to do with traffic or parking.
In four or eight years, I’m going to have to run for supervisor, mayor, sheriff or some other high post that allows me to either fix things that need fixing or arrest the people who need to be in jail. I keep a long list in my wallet.
The key, of course, will be to always make sure I have at least two friends on the council or board so I can get things done quickly. The other key will be to ignore the usual suspects who forget to take their medication and run up to the podium because they like the sound of their own voices.
Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299, email@example.com, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.
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