It works! New traffic plan eases holiday travel congestion
The Town of Truckee’s plan to prevent gridlock along Donner Pass Road went into effect for the first time on Monday, and succeeded in its goal – keeping traffic moving through town at the end of the busy Presidents’ Day weekend.
“Most responses I got were good,” Daytime Street Supervisor Burt Mortier said. “The traffic never backed up past Northwoods, and it usually backs up all the way through town.”
Around 3 p.m. traffic began to back up in town because of Caltrans’ decision to implement chain control on Donner Pass Road. Caltrans opened the Interstate 80 on ramp on the right side of Donner Pass Road, and had motorists chaining up in front of the Shell station and on the overpass crossing I-80.
“They had chain control up for a while and then were able to open it up,” Mortier said. “They closed the westbound on ramp again. Once we got the bridge cleared up, everything ran smoothly.” He said Caltrans had opened the second westbound on ramp in an effort to deal with the holiday traffic, but was unaware of the traffic controls which the town had put into place.
Beginning around 1 p.m. Monday, traffic control officers from the Placer County Sheriff’s Office placed cones between the lanes on Donner Pass Road, from a quarter mile east of Northwoods to just past Richards Boulevard. The right lane designated for use by people traveling to Tahoe Donner and the Armstrong Tract.
In addition to coning off the turn lane, the town placed traffic control officers at the Donner Pass Road intersections of Northwoods and Richards boulevards.
Mortier said residents of Tahoe Donner and the Armstrong Tract were pleased with the results.
“Everybody that went by in the right lane gave me a thumbs up,” he said. “It was still a little rough getting them through. Next time we will extend the cone pattern all the way to the westbound on ramp on Donner Pass. Then they will have a clear lane all the way past chain control.”
Mortier said he was impressed with the traffic control officers, who worked the intersection at Northwoods and Donner Pass Road.
“The freeway never closed, and it never backed up so that we were in complete gridlock,” Mortier said. We never got to that point, for which I am thankful. I think the plan was a sound one and being there ahead of time with people on site is what we really need to do. The idea is to be ahead of the game.”
Traffic control officers remained at the intersections for about three hours, before traffic eased about 6:30 p.m.
Mortier said traffic could have been worse, but many motorists left earlier in the day. He said Caltrans counted 2,500 cars crossing Donner Summit between 11 a.m. and noon.
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