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Caltrans studies bypass options

JOHN A. BAYLESS Sierra Sun

Caltrans appears to be moving forward with one of the town’s proposals to retain the westbound on-ramp and east-bound off-ramp at the intersection of Interstate 80 and Highway 89 after construction of the Highway 267 Bypass, Town Manager Steve Wright told council members in their April 16 meeting.

“We formally completed the project survey review and submitted it to Caltrans,” Wright said. “Town Engineer Jon Lander has been talking with Caltrans.”

Wright said Caltrans is apparently focusing on two of the less-expensive options proposed by the town’s consulting engineer, and is identifying the special design exceptions required to complete those projects.

Preliminary cost estimates of revisions to the Highway 267 Bypass showed the ramp design initially favored by Caltrans engineers could cost as much as $3.5 million, plus the cost of around 9 acres of land.

The town submitted five plans ranging in cost from

$1 million to $4.5 million to Caltrans.

The $3.5 million design includes the cost of a long eastbound Interstate 80 off ramp to the south of Interstate 80, and a bridge across Highway 89. Because the ramp goes substantially south, it would require more land than other alternatives. The cheaper alternatives, costing about $1.5 million, include no bridge over Highway 89, but also have two eastbound Interstate 80 off ramps, posing a possible concern for Caltrans engineers.

“They are definitely identifying design exceptions and have indicated that they will forward them to the Federal Highway Administration,” Wright said. “Given that, we have made contact with the FHWA to explain why the exceptions are necessary.”

He said the Forest Service has also indicated its support of the less expensive alternatives proposed by the town, and has said it will dedicate additional right of way to Caltrans if they select that option.

The more expensive option for retaining the ramps would require no design exceptions, but would cut into Truckee Cemetery District property and require much more Forest Service land.

The cemetery district board has voiced its opposition to any plan which would cut into the district’s property.

Although the issue of the ramps is still under consideration, Council member Bob Drake said the project as a whole is still moving ahead.

“The only ‘maybe’ is on the ramps,” Drake said. “The only thing at issues if the on and off ramps.” He said Caltrans is still moving forward with its plans for the Highway 267 Bypass, and engineering and planning work are in progress.

Possible changes to development policy

The council also considered possible changes in the development phasing policy along Highway 267 during its meeting. Because of the critical problem with traffic at the intersection of Commercial Row and Highway 267, a hold was placed on any further development on Highway 267 in the town limits in 1996.

However, the construction of the Highway 267 Bypass is moving ahead faster than initially thought, and the construction of the western undercrossing and the traffic circle will lessen the problem at the downtown intersection.

Town staff brought the policy back before council, to ask if it wished to change the policy to allow for development in the near future, given the pending road work and the easing of the traffic loads.

Council directed staff to look into amending the policy in such a way that it would permit phased development in conjunction with the construction of the western undercrossing and the bypass, but not before construction had begun on the bypass.

Other business

In other business, the council:

— Adopted an amendment to the Chapter 9.01 of the Municipal Code (Vehicle towing services).

–Approved resolution 98-11, with clarifying language, providing direction for community involvement on planned communities and master plan areas.

— Authorized the town manage to execute an agreement for California Conservation Corps emergency services.

— Adopted departmental mission statements.

— Approved recommended community group representation for the Truckee Trails Planning Advisory Committee, roles of the advisory committee, and general scope of the Truckee Bikeways and Trails Master Plan.

— Adopted the five-year capital improvement program and the equipment acquisition plan.

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