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(VIDEO) Highway 49: Extensive Road Work Ahead – Nevada County Community Forum hosts talk on planned construction for corridor

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Nevada County Community Forum hosted a discussion on Highway 49 safety projects planned for the main corridor into western Nevada County. The following is an excerpt from The Union’s coverage by reporter Marianne Boll-See, originally published March 18 and can be read in full at


“There’s going to be a lot more construction on 49,” Sam Vandell, Caltrans District 3 Project Manager told the audience of over 50 people attending the Community Forum held monthly at the Sierra College Campus in Grass Valley.

Part of the impetus for improvements to State Route 49 began in the early 80s when Nevada County’s population nearly doubled, and the volumes of traffic on the highway have increased.

The design of the original highway was a sleepy two- lane rural highway, with driveways or other roads that ingress and egress onto the highway.

Increased traffic speeds, combined with folks trying to enter and exit the highway, and the potential for high- speed / low- speed conflicts, have been local issues according to Mike Woodman, Nevada County Transportation Commission Director, a second guest at the Forum.

Back in 2005 a rash of fatal accidents occurred on SR 49 between Auburn and Nevada City spurring Bruce and Deborah Jones, and many other organizations and individuals, to create a group called Citizens Concerned for Highway 49 to advocate for traffic safety.

“There was some work done with striping, rumble strips, and increased CHP patrol. And what was really impressive to see over the next five years, through raised awareness, through the community coming together, was that there were still 11 to 12 people who died, but it was over the course of five years as opposed to one,” Brian Hamilton, host of Friday’s Community Forum and former editor of The Union said.

Since then, improvement projects are often driven by hot spots for traffic incidents and fatalities; unfortunately the funding for projects that aim toward prevention are often tied to the population of an area, so much of the funding goes to the larger metropolitan areas, according to Woodman.

Currently, the improvement plans for the stretch of State Route (SR) 49 corridor — known as the LaBarr Meadows to McKnight Way project — include the addition of north- and southbound truck climbing lanes, a center two-way left turn lane, southbound right turn lanes, 8- to 10-foot shoulders and increased vertical curve sight distance.

Read the full story at

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