Truckers, Highway 49 residents unglued by I-80 detour
April 21, 2009
A detour from Interstate 80 is causing sleepless nights for people living along Highway 49 and confusing truckers who can’t figure out when they are supposed to take the long way around.
The machine-gun rumble of 15 to 20 big-rigs barreling down the highway with the Jake brakes compressed is enough to rattle windows and bolt some out of a dead sleep, said Denise Van Dyk, resident manager of Tall Pines Estates.
The park of manufactured homes is about a mile and a half south of Grass Valley on Highway 49.
“I have 30 homes lined up on the highway. It wakes us up out of a deep sleep,” said Van Dyk, who has hooked up two fans in her bedroom to muffle the noise. “I can hear my wind chimes, and it’s not windy.”
In her efforts to get some rest, Van Dyk has contacted the office of state Sen. Sam Aanestad, R-Grass Valley, and Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol ” getting little reassurance of peace and quiet anytime soon.
Since the detour began, two big-rigs have rolled over on Highway 20, and two drivers of wide-load trucks from Texas have run into difficulty navigating the Dorsey Drive overpass.
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All incidents occurred during daytime hours when I-80 is open to truck traffic.
“That’s probably confusion on the part of people trying to follow detours,” said Julie Sauls, spokeswoman for the California Trucking Association. The group has forwarded a traffic advisory about the detour to all of its 1,800 members, but many out-of-state trucking companies don’t get the message, she said.
“For many folks traveling, the first time they are going to know of it is when they hit the detour,” Sauls said.
Caltrans officials said they are doing everything they can to notify truckers including radio spots, signs, message boards and fliers sent to truck stops as far away as Utah.
“I’ve been trying to reach them all, that’s why it’s so frustrating. How am I missing them?” said spokeswoman Rochelle Jenkins.
Last week, Nevada County supervisors criticized Caltrans for not gathering input from those living in the area where the detour would re-route semi-trucks and buses every night of the week from April to October.
Caltrans will host an informational meeting about the detour at 6 p.m. April 29 in Nevada City Hall, a meeting Van Dyk plans to attend.
She would like to convince Caltrans to pilot trucks along the entire detour route to limit speed; now, the piloting stops at Nevada City.
Such an effort would be cost-prohibitive, Jenkins said. Piloting is for safety issues, and not to alleviate a nuisance, she added.
“I know it’s not going to stop, but they don’t need to use their Jake brakes. If they’re using their Jake breaks, they’re going too fast,” Van Dyk said.