Hearing will debate traffic solutions on Hwy. 89 | SierraSun.com

Hearing will debate traffic solutions on Hwy. 89

No one will disagree traffic congestion in Truckee this summer was undesirable, but how to best deal with the problem is up for debate.

Town Engineer Dan Wilkins plans a public hearing on Wednesday, Nov. 15 from 3 to 5 p.m. at Town Hall to discuss the community’s preferred choice for intersections on Highway 89 South: roundabouts or traffic signals?

In addition, Wilkins would also like to hear public comment on four proposed solutions for expanding the mousehole, the tunnel on Hwy. 89 which separates the Union Pacific Railroad grade from the road.

There were two studies that analyzed intersection modifications on Hwy. 89, one for traffic lights and one for roundabouts.

The study anticipates the potential construction of signal lights at the on-ramp for Interstate 80 on Hwy. 89 and at the intersection of Hwy. 89 and West River Street.

“With lights, we will have to add turn lanes underneath I-80,” Wilkins said, “but they won’t require widening the road. The two new lights will have to be upgraded 10 to 15 years down the line.”

“Roundabouts are 20 percent more efficient,” Wilkins continued. “The nature of a roundabout accommodates for directional flows, whereas with signals electrical hardware determine how traffic moves.”

The second study analyzed the potential construction of four new roundabouts, one at the on-ramp, at Hwy. 89 and West River, at Donner Pass Road and Hwy. 89 and at Hwy. 89 and Deerfield Drive.

When the town considered the first roundabout there was a lot of skepticism about how it would work, Wilkins said. After it was built, a lot people changed their opinion.

“I actually feel the roundabout has helped tremendously,” said Anne Sauer, owner of Round Table Pizza in Truckee. “The roundabout does help traffic back-ups.”

“I can’t see a roundabout making much difference at the Interstate 80 junction,” Sauer said. “I think a light would be better there because I can’t see people working together. The roundabouts are harder to use, especially for the tourists.”

Lt. Dave Baxley with Nevada County Sheriff’s Office said the roundabout is a tremendous help moving traffic, and that an additional roundabout would be particularly desirable at the West River and Hwy. 89 junction.

“People, however, need to pay attention to the signs,” he said. “There aren’t any more accidents at the roundabout than at other intersections, but people don’t always understand what yield signs mean.”

There are also studies which address the lack of elbow room for pedestrians walking across the railroad grade at Hwy. 89. Currently, pedestrians have to walk through the tunnel, a very dangerous undertaking.

One describes an additional hole for pedestrian access, which Wilkins feels won’t be used by a majority of bikers.

The second solution describes an additional hole for one-way traffic, and two other plans describe widening the original hole.

Town Council will hear additional public input and may take action on both issues in their Dec. 7 meeting.

For more information, call Dan Wilkins at 582-7700.

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