Fate of Highway 267 bypass ramps undecided
Truckee and Caltrans are working to solve Highway 267 Bypass woes concerning the potential closure of the ramps at the Highway 89 North and Interstate 80 intersection.
Caltrans met with the town and Sen. Tim Leslie’s staff in mid-September and is considering leaving a partial interchange at the intersection, but Caltrans District Director Irene Itamura said not to count on it.
Although Mayor Bob Drake said he is confident that Caltrans will compromise, Itamura said with the latest traffic study analysis does not support keeping any ramps open.
She said there is a design team meeting in mid-November and there will be preliminary decisions made then.
The town’s recommendations are considered design exceptions and will take up to six months to process. They are:
— Leaving existing ramps in their present location. The project would require two breaks in the access control on the Interstate 80 route.
This additional access point must be approved by National Transportation Safety Board in Washington, D.C.
— The minimum interchange spacing as outlined is one mile in urban areas, two miles in rural areas and two miles between freeway-to-freeway interchanges and local street interchanges. The existing partial interchange will be located one-third mile from the new expressway-to-freeway interchange.
— In accordance with Caltrans’ design manual, the use of isolated off-ramps or partial interchanges should be avoided because wrong-way movements are more prevalent at isolated off-ramps than at ramps in interchanges where all traffic movements are provided.
— Environmental approval must be obtained for the design change.
“This is all about safety,” she said. “People need time to see signs and make decisions while driving. With only a third of a mile between the two interchanges, this may be impossible.”
Opponents of Caltrans’ plans to close the ramp said it will “devastate” the downtown traffic. Itamura said the traffic study doesn’t support this.
Drake said the ramps are more for convenience to the many residents frequenting this intersection, and said he is concerned that with major design changes, there may be a delay in the bypass construction.
Itamura said the bypass project is still on schedule, but if there is an overwhelming amount of opposition to the ramp closures, new design alternatives may push back the date, later than 1999.
“We are trying to keep the project on schedule,” Itamura said. “We know how important it is for the town.
“Most of the opposition comes from the belief that the ramps will be completely closed. They are only being moved – three-quarters of a mile down the highway.”
If the ramps were removed from the Highway 89 and 267 overpass at Interstate 80, traffic would be rerouted to the bypass connection through the Hopkins Family property near the proposed Planned Community 2, north of Interstate 80.
Residents in the Prosser area, Olympic Heights and Glenshire would be forced to use the new loop or would travel through downtown Truckee after taking the Central Truckee exit.
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