Sutter County Roundabout

A rendering of what a roundabout could look like at the intersection of Highway 99 and Oswald Road – one of three options being considered for the intersection, which has seen issues arise in recent years due to truck traffic and accidents.

A significant number of truck yards have popped up in recent years in the southern portion of Sutter County along Highway 99. That means increased truck traffic.

Sutter County officials are considering options for one problematic intersection – at Highway 99 and Oswald Road – due to the increase. 

“There’s a lot of truck traffic in that area. We just need to have a better, more safe way for trucks to enter and exit the roadway, as well as cars, because there’s a lot of people living along that road,” said Sutter County Supervisor Mat Conant. 

One option being considered is establishing a roundabout at the location – the Federal Highway Administration said roundabouts reduce the types of crashes where people are seriously hurt or killed by 78-82 percent when compared to conventional stop-controlled and signalized intersections. Other options being considered include a stoplight or an interchange.

In addition to an increase in truck traffic, the intersection in question has seen an uptick in vehicle accidents as well. The county hired consulting firm GHD, Inc. to study the alternatives for the intersection. Engineer Russ Wenham gave a presentation to supervisors in September and said that all three options would improve safety.

A traffic signal, Wenham said, would improve safety by approximately 25 percent and be the most cost-efficient option at around $5 million to construct. A roundabout would improve safety by twice that amount but could also cost up to $12 million to complete. Lastly, an interchange is the safest option, likely to improve safety by approximately 75 percent, he said, but it would be the costliest at up to $40 million. 

Thursday’s open house is intended for the public to review the proposed changes and provide feedback about the project. Conant said officials are open to all options, though he has his own concerns about a potential roundabout. 

“I’m not sold on it yet because I’m not sure how it would work for big trucks. Maybe a standard 48-foot trailer would work, but what about bigger trucks with 15 axles, will they still be able to make that turn? The road wouldn’t be much bigger than it is now, and I just can’t see that working with other vehicles using the road,” Conant said. “I don’t know what the answer is, because we already have too many stoplights along that roadway through Yuba City. It’s going to be pretty costly no matter how you slice it.”

The decision ultimately comes down to the California Department of Transportation. Sutter County officials will gather feedback from the public and make a recommendation to Caltrans. 

The county, GHD and Caltrans will have representatives at this week’s open house to answer the public’s questions. Thursday’s open house will be from 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. at the Sutter County Veteran’s Hall – 1425 Veteran’s Memorial Circle, Yuba City.

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