Truckee weighs options for Bridge Street intersection
Truckee is moving toward a final design for two typically congested downtown intersections on Bridge Street.
After a community outreach and public advisory meeting, town planners settled on four designs to improve the function of the intersections at Donner Pass Road and East and West River streets.
Options included minor sidewalk improvements, the installation of two roundabouts or stoplights at each intersection, or the complete closure of Bridge Street over the train tracks.
Of 350 responses received from a community wide survey, most were in favor of installing stoplights at both intersections, according to Dan Wilkins, director of public works for the town of Truckee.
“The advantage with a traffic signal is it takes up less space,” said Wilkins. It also provides opportunities for pedestrians to cross under the protection of traffic signals. When a train approaches, Wilkins said, they would be able to interface the stop lights with the train turning at the intersection into a three way intersection to keep the flow of traffic going. During low-traffic periods it would cause drivers to stop when they don’t need to. However, during high-traffic periods Wilkins said it “organizes the traffic flow quite nicely.”
One of the challenges with installing roundabouts is the limited amount of space available. If the town does pursue this option the roundabouts would be the smallest in town. While roundabouts help the flow of traffic they could become gridlocked when a train comes. To prevent that from happening traffic lights would have to be installed to halt traffic coming into the roundabout when a train approaches.
The 2025 general plan allows for a roundabout or traffic lights to be built, however it encourages the use of roundabouts.
STOP & GO
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.
“We need to make sure whatever improvements we do, it doesn’t end up trapping vehicles on the railroad tracks,” said Wilkins.
The closure of Bridge Street across the railroad tracks would increase pedestrian safety and make it easier to cross the street. However, Wilkins said “this is an alternative that would more dramatically affect regional traffic patterns.” With no way to cross the tracks, he said traffic would increase on West River Street as well traffic on the 267 bypass.
In addition to increasing pedestrian safety another goal of the project is to establish a quiet zone, which would mean train conductors would not be required to blow horns crossing through downtown.
The town will hold it last Project Advisory Committee meeting at 4:30 p.m., April 29, at Truckee Town Hall, during which a final design will be selected. The town council will hear the project on May 28. If approved, construction could begin the summer of 2021.
Hannah Jones is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at 530-550-2652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.