Whether you agree with them on the need for widening Highway 70 from Marysville to inside the Butte County line, or whether you agree with them about the questionable safety of a continuous left-turn lane, we think the Keep 70 Safe Committee and others who oppose some aspects of a state project are doing us a service by asserting that a Marysville bypass should not be snubbed.

Mention in public that thought should be given to a bypass and you’re likely to meet a lot of grumbling about how impossible such a project would be. It will never happen so move on, you’ll probably be told.

Yet, we’re sitting in traffic for 20 minutes to get three blocks away from where we were in a small city... there aren’t supposed to be traffic snarls in a community this size. But there are. The highway traffic that pours into the town at some times of the day essentially walls off one part of the community from others. 

Some day, we’re going to want to be past all of that.

In the meantime, work started late in the week on Caltrans’ Highway 70 Safety Improvement Project.  The initial phase happens just south of Oroville for a two-mile stretch.

It’s one of six segments on the drawing board for the project that includes widening and paving shoulders and a continuous left-turn lane.

Some members of the Keep 70 Safe Committee and others opposed the $104.6 million project for various reasons– some are concerned with the state taking additional land along the highway for expansion, some say they’re worried about the safety of people who live and work along the route having to cross the modified highway, some doubt the safety of the continuous turn lane. And they believe there are better ways to relieve traffic congestion– citing, specifically, a Marysville bypass.

“Keep 70 Safe continues to try to continue to work with Caltrans and our elected officials to try and convince them that the bypass that was needed 30 years ago is needed now,” said committee chairperson Pamela Warmack.

A Caltrans official, Gilbert Mohtes-Chan, responded that a bypass would cost around $1 billion and could take decades to complete. He’s fending off the idea as a diversion to the 70 corridor project.

He notes that the project doesn’t include additional through lanes, so Caltrans doesn’t expect  noise and environmental pollution levels to change appreciably, another concern of some opponents.

He also cites the fact that there have been numerous collisions and fatalities on the stretch being modified.

The improvement project in Yuba County is expected to have preliminary work start in the fall of 2020; major work is expected to start in early 2021.

We’re not at all against the safety improvement project. But whether it’s a side issue to the project or a completely different issue, we all need to start brainstorming on how to make a bypass feasible. 

Nostalgia hitting you for old Fifth Street Bridge? 

Want to drive or walk across the old Fifth Street Bridge one more time? You have through July 25 to do so. The bridge will close temporarily July 26-27 so crews can realign roads in Marysville and Yuba City to shift traffic onto the newly-constructed bridge. Demolition of the existing old bridge will happen over the rest of the summer to make room for the rest of the new structure.

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