Truckee Town Council looks to improve downtown intersections
January 24, 2019
Two typically congested Bridge Street intersections in downtown Truckee could be getting a makeover as the town moves forward with potential alternatives for the sites.
In September, the town established a Project Advisory Committee to help guide the reconstruction process of Bridge Street intersections at Donner Pass Road and East and West River streets.
According to Jessica Thompson, the town's senior engineer, the committee decided at the least the project should improve pedestrian circulation and safety. This may include installing continuous sidewalks on both sides of Bridge Street and at least one protected crosswalk.
"It's kind of scary to watch people cross that area," said Thompson.
Another goal would be to establish a quiet zone, which would mean train conductors would not be required to blow horns crossing through downtown.
"The engineer would still have the ability to sound it, if something was in the way," she said.
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According to a town staff report, both intersections are currently at the lowest level of operation due to stop-and-go conditions. However, the town has deemed the intersections acceptable for now. Currently, traffic traveling northbound on Bridge Street does not stop, in order to keep the railroad tracks clear.
The committee came up with options to improve safety and traffic flow including installing roundabouts or a traffic signal. Thompson said the committee determined that installing two roundabouts worked best with traffic flow when a train was not present.
"But with the train present, it clogs up," she said.
The 2025 general plan allows for a roundabout or traffic lights to be built, however it encourages the use of roundabouts. The committee also looked at how certain improvements would affect the traffic flow.
"While that is one of the goals it may not be an ideal intersection for a roundabout due to the size constraints," said Thompson. "If we put something in there that is so undesirable that people go a different way around it, we'd want to understand that."
A draft improvement plan completed by Eastern Sierra Engineering in June suggested additional physical improvements would be needed to increase pedestrian safety and mitigate traffic congestion, including sidewalk installation on the east side of Bridge Street with a crosswalk across the tracks and the potential installation of roundabouts at the intersections.
The town plans to continue public outreach to determine the best alternatives for the intersections.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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