Truckee’s most confusing intersection is surprisingly safe, crash data shows |

Truckee’s most confusing intersection is surprisingly safe, crash data shows

Traffic moves northbound and turns left without stopping (which is the correct right of way) through Truckee's Donner Pass Road and Bridge Street intersection on Dec. 14.
Amanda Rhoades / Sierra Sun |

Read the data

The data for this story was obtained using the UC Berkeley Transportation Injury Mapping System. You can view the data we pulled from it on at .

TRUCKEE, Calif. — You know the drill — stop at a four-way intersection, wait your turn and check to make sure no one else is moving before proceeding.

But at one intersection in the town of Truckee, on a busy enough day, you may find yourself waiting for a very long time.

It trips up visitors and frustrates locals, but it only takes about 15 minutes of watching the downtown intersection of Donner Pass Road and Bridge Street to realize not everyone passing through notices that one direction of traffic does not stop.

“It’s so traffic doesn’t get backed up onto the railroad tracks in the northbound direction,” Truckee Public Works Director Dan Wilkins told the Sun. “It’s basically to prevent northbound traffic from getting backed up.”

The intersection lies near the Beacon parking lot in an area with many pedestrians, and it can be confusing to drivers, considering those heading northbound on Bridge Street have the right of way — even when turning left onto Donner Pass Road.

Further, since those drivers moving north on Bridge Street are coming downhill from Brockway Road, rather quickly at times, the intersection doesn’t always seem the safest or the most intuitive.

But a recent Sierra Sun analysis of traffic accident reports within the town of Truckee revealed that less than one collision per year occurs at the busy intersection.

The data came from the University of California Berkeley Transportation Injury Mapping System, and to be fair, the site warns that information from 2014-2016 may be incomplete.

But even with the uncertainty of the last three years, the data shows that two collisions occurred in 2015, one occurred in 2014, two in 2012 and two in 2011.

Only one collision occurred at the intersection in 2009, and that’s it for the last decade, meaning the total number of reported traffic collisions at the Donner Pass Road and Bridge Street intersection since 2006 is only eight.

When asked if that seemed correct, Wilkins said “yes.”

“Whenever we’ve looked at accident data at that site, its relatively low, compared to some of the other sites in town,” he said, although he wasn’t able to recall the other sites off the top of his head.

He did say that even with its low collision rate, the Donner Pass Road and Bridge Street intersection is slated for possible upgrades.

“Over the course of the next three years, town council has prioritized doing some improvements at that intersection,” Wilkins said. “The intention is to go through a fairly comprehensive evaluation, and as part of that effort, we’re anticipating a fairly public outreach.”

He said that while no timeline has been set at this point, the development phase could kick off next summer.

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