Incorporation has had big consequences for local roads
The pothole trout has disappeared and the dilapidated snowplows have been replaced, but Truckee citizens still have varying opinions about the state of Truckee’s roads.
“We’ve got 15,000 residents, so we’ve got 15,000 perspectives out there,” said Truckee Public Works Director Dan Wilkins.
A trip to the post office to talk to a few people proved his point.
“I think the roads are in good shape, but I don’t know what they were like before,” said John Shaw, who moved to Truckee in 1997.
“It used to be pretty bad,” said 20-year resident Angela Roll. “I think they’ve done a pretty good job.”
But Roll isn’t so sure that snow removal is up to par.
“I don’t think they try hard enough or anticipate when a storm is coming,” she said.
As the snow flurries began to fly Tuesday after a warm spell, Wilkins explained the types of complaints his department gets regarding snow removal.
“You kind of get spoiled over the summer,” Wilkins said. “That first big storm and the phones are ringing off the hook.”
Most complaints, Wilkins said, are about berms in driveways.
“It’s amazing the level of rage that’s generated. I understand it, we’ve all had berm rage in our lives,” he said.
But Wilkins has seen the amount of complaints decrease, even as Truckee’s population has increased from approximately 8,000 people in 1993 to almost 15,000 today.
Although snow (and its removal) seems to be the only thing on people’s minds when a big storm hits, when spring and summer come, the town begins work on its approximately 140 miles of roads.
In 10 years, the town has rebuilt 90 percent of its roads. Jibboom Street is the street often mentioned as an example of Truckee’s road maintenance prowess.
“Jibboom Street is better than in used to be,” said Bob Revai, who has survived “19 winters” as a Truckee resident, as he looked out the post office window. “But there’s still a lot to be desired as far as the whole picture.”
Revai talked for a while about what Truckee was like when he first moved here, then started talking about the roads and local government again.
“I think what the town council should do is get their priorities straight, therefore they’ve got to maintain the roads better than they do,” he said.
Although the Jibboom Street jokes have become a thing of the past, some of Truckee’s bigger accomplishments have set a precedent for future infrastructure development.
Wilkins feels the McIver undercrossing and roundabout, which won a 1999 League of California Cities award, may have had the most impact on the circulation of traffic and road design in Truckee.
“That project also took a lot of leadership at the council level,” Wilkins said. “That roundabout was one of the first roundabouts constructed in Northern California. They took a risk, the downside being public perception, and if it didn’t work it would have had to be rebuilt and that would have cost money.”
Wilkins said that one roundabout has helped give the town flexibility when it comes to traffic control. Instead of installing a traffic signal at the Interstate 80/Highway 89 interchange, local government decided to help fund a two-lane roundabout.
Ultimately, the council and the public works department hope putting in roundabouts instead of traffic signals will help Truckee feel more like a small town – even as its population pushes toward 20,000.
“We want to stay as rural in nature as we can as we double our population,” Wilkins said.
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Friends of the Truckee Library gave a presentation at Tuesday’s Truckee Town Council meeting, providing an update on work to ensure a new library while asking for further support for the project.