| SierraSun.com

Emma Garrard/Sierra SunThe intersection of East Jibboom Street and Bridge Street would see an increase in traffic if Town of Truckee builds a road connecting Tahoe Donner to downtown through Pioneer Trail and Bridge Street.

Tahoe Donner residents may have a new way to get in and out of the subdivision, but not anytime soon.

The Town of Truckee is planning a third connection to Tahoe Donner, which would include extending Pioneer Trail east to Tahoe Donner and Bridge Street north to Pioneer Trail. This would give residents access to Donner Pass Road near Highway 89, as well as to downtown.

Truckee Senior Engineer Todd Landry said the extension is still only in the planning phases, with construction not likely until after 2010.

Public Works Director Dan Wilkins said creating the third connection is necessary to maintain traffic mobility as the town grows and develops.

“Because it will parallel Donner Pass Road, it creates another alternative for east-west circulation,” Wilkins said.

Relief to Donner Pass Road has been a town priority, Wilkins said, and keeping it as a three-lane road is important to maintaining community character, as specified in the town’s general plan.

The new connections will give Tahoe Donner residents better access to both Highway 89 north, Highway 267 south and the downtown area, Wilkins said.

“Currently if you live in central or southern Tahoe Donner and want to go to Northstar, for example, most go down Northwoods to Donner Pass Road to Brockway to 267,” Wilkins said. “This will be a more attractive route to the bypass.”

Wilkins said the new connection wouldn’t increase traffic in downtown, but would instead provide motorists an alternate route.

Because the eastern end of downtown will eventually have both the new access point and the Railyard development, Wilkins said he expects some increase in traffic that will be addressed with either roundabouts, traffic signals, or additional left-turn pockets at the Bridge Street and Donner Pass Road intersection.

“Improvements to that intersection are important with or without the extension,” Wilkins said.

Stefanie Olivieri, president of the Downtown Merchants Association, said while she doesn’t expect downtown traffic to be significantly impacted, she expects it will have a positive effect on downtown business on Jibboom Street and Commercial Row.

“I think it’s a great idea,” Olivieri said. “It’s important for people living in Tahoe Donner and it makes it much simpler to access downtown.”

Preliminary funding for the estimated $15 million project will come from traffic impact fees, paid by developers to help maintain the town’s road system as the town grows, Wilkins said.

As development occurs along the new route, developers will be responsible for contributing to the new route as well, Wilkins said.

He said as the project moves forward, an environmental review will be conducted to make sure Trout Creek is not impacted by the road construction or by run-off.

The environmental review will also study traffic levels on Northwoods Boulevard, Alder Creek Road, downtown and on the new extension, Wilkins said.

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