College breaks ground in Truckee |

College breaks ground in Truckee

Courtesy graphic/Sierra SunA computer-generated illustration shows how Sierra College's hilltop campus in Truckee will look when it opens in two years.

A line-up of Truckee dignitaries turned spades of dirt Monday as they broke ground for a new community college in the Town of Truckee.

Slated to open its doors for the 2009 spring semester, the new Sierra College campus will be built atop McIver Hill overlooking the town and the Truckee River.

The school’s design team secured a 40-acre tract of land surrounded by a 73-acre conservation parcel granted to the Truckee Donner Land Trust. The land trust’s easement will allow the community access for recreational uses.

The new campus is being constructed with funds from the $35 million Measure H, which the college district’s voters approved in 2004. The college has a current combined enrollment of over 50,000 students, including 650 in its Truckee annex.

With the new facility, Sierra College enters a new phase in its educational mission in eastern Nevada County. A two-year institution based in Rocklin, the school has offered college-level classes in the Truckee High School building since the 1970s.

In 2002 the college leased a building in the new Pioneer Commerce Center in Truckee and held its first classes there in January 2003. The school will continue to teach classes there for the next two years while the new McIver Hill campus is constructed.

The new campus will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 students a semester when it opens, and more students at buildout.

Students are currently able to earn an Associates of Arts or Sciences degree from the Truckee campus, said Dean of the College Rick Rantz. The new campus may provide new opportunities for academic growth as well.

“We are in discussions with two institutions regarding a four-year degree program,” Rantz said. “We would want to make it as cost-effective as possible.”

One complication in the building plans is potential traffic congestion at the campus entrance on Highway 89 south. Rather than pursue solutions that may have a significant environmental impact, Rantz said the college is cooperating with Caltrans to institute some road changes that include widening Highway 89 and building a bike bridge over Donner Creek.

Rantz added that according to a traffic impact study conducted by the college, the maximum traffic delay caused by the college’s new infrastructure would be 30 seconds to one minute.

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