Highway 49 Updates
Working together to make Highway 49 safe for everyone
As the founders of Citizens for Highway 49 Safety, we would like to thank Brian Hamilton for his excellent article, “Preventing Tragedy,” which appeared in The Union, April 9. Keeping Highway 49 in the spotlight reminds us all of the constant danger of traveling our local Highway.
We, as a group, are still working with our local authorities and Caltrans to look for and identify problems and safety issues on 49 and to try to find solutions. Fighting to keep our designated safety corridor intact with all of its funding is a fight we just recently won with the support of supervisors Nate Beason and Ed Scofield.
One other very important safety measure that we are currently trying to find funding for, with the help of Supervisor Scofield and Higgins Battalion Chief Jerry Good, is a pre-emption device for the intersection of Highway 49 and Combie Road. This would allow our emergency response (fire) equipment to safely enter and cross an intersection that currently posts a speed limit
of 65 mph.
Imagine trying to cross Interstate 80 with emergency equipment and getting the traffic to stop. We are sure, as most of you have noticed more than once, many cars still do not even pull over to the right side of the road when they hear or see emergency vehicles approaching and trying to get by.
Accidents and near-misses have already happened at the intersection of Combie Road and Highway 49 when our firefighters have been responding to calls, and our goal is to help our firefighters get across Highway 49 safely by being able to control the signal lights. At this time, Caltrans has no funding for this project and does not see any in the future. This is a major safety issue that needs to be addressed.
At our Highway 49 Stakeholders Meetings, five minor safety projects that have been identified, with the help of Caltrans, are now planned for Highway 49 that will include Ladybird Drive, Cherry Lane, Smith Road, Carriage Road and Brewer Road.
We all also know that Highway 49 is and has been at over-capacity since the 1990s and funding has not been available to remedy this problem from McKnight to Combie Road. Therefore, even with the minor improvements made, we must continue to keep our focus on highway safety or the accident statistics could again increase to the serious-injury and fatal-accident levels of the past.
At this time, Bruce and I would like to thank one very important member of Citizens for Highway 49 Safety, Chet Krage, who has been an integral part of our group from the beginning. He has been invaluable to us with his knowledge of our local roadways and his presentation skills.
Also, Nevada County supervisors Beason and Scofield and former Supervisor Sue Horne have shown tremendous support for our goal in making Highway 49 safer for everyone along with Sgt. Mike Lawrence of our local CHP office.
Executive Director of the Nevada County Transportation Commission Dan Landon keeps our meetings running smoothly and we appreciate his help and valuable suggestions. Higgins Battalion Chief Good has also been a valuable asset in identifying problem areas on our highway.
As we keep working to find solutions to improve safety on Highway 49, we ask those drivers who travel the highway to please turn on your headlights so you are visible to other cars, stay alert and drive safely. Please report any suspected DUI or impaired driver you may see on the road. DUIs and impaired drivers are still a very serious issue on our highway.
Even one fatality or serious injury can change the lives of many people in ways hopefully most of you will never know. Let us all work together to make Highway 49 safer for everyone.
Deborah Jones lives in Grass Valley.
Highway 49 widening set to start next week