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Hwy 20 from Nevada City to the junction with I-80 is undergoing a lot of construction these days. Besides the ongoing winter storm cleanup, the Omega Curves project has begun and motorists should plan for longer than expected travel times.
The Omega Curves project will improve two non-contiguous segments in Nevada County between post miles (PM) 29.7-30.9 (White Cloud) and 36.8-39.8 (Lowell Hill) by modifying the existing horizontal and vertical curves of the roadway and adding turnouts. This project will update the roadway to current standards by increasing the curve radii, widening shoulders to 8 feet, adding turnouts for both directions, and improving the vertical profile grade. Additionally, the project will widen an existing turnout to standard width on SR-20 from PM 36.8 to 37.0. for the Washington Road turnoff.
Caltrans states the White Cloud and Lowell Hill portions of Hwy 20 “experienced a total of 39 collisions in a recent 3-year period (January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2017), including 19 collisions involving injuries. The resulting total accident rate is higher than the statewide average for a similar type of facility. In addition, this section of the existing two-lane conventional highway facility has no room to pass. Slow-moving traffic has the potential to delay traffic flow leading to unsafe passing movements.”
Jeff Cox, a geologist, thermographer and licensed UAV pilot, based in Nevada County recently took some aerial footage of the segments and shared the videos with us. He is the owner of Cox Multimedia Group, readers may remember his footage of the Grass Valley sinkhole in 2018.
Here is the view of the work done near Conservation Road. According to Caltrans, beginning Monday, May 16, construction crews will be widening the roadway near Conservation Road/Pine Needle Lane for installation of a left-turn pocket. One-way traffic control and 20-minute travel delays between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. weekdays are anticipated through mid-June.
This second video shows the White Cloud/Shake Hill Road segment. Nevada County motorists also should be alert for trucks hauling logs from the White Cloud and Lowell Hill areas. Intermittent one-way traffic control may be required when logging trucks move from shoulder areas to the roadway. Tree crews also are scheduled to begin grinding stumps and collecting debris piles in the next few weeks to remove remaining vegetation from construction zones.
The final segment is the Lowell Hill area, a well-known windy stretch of the state highway.
Thanks again to Jeff for sharing these views with us and remember to account for the construction work when driving Hwy 20 in the foreseeable future. The project is scheduled to run through fall of 2023. If you want to see 360 panoramic views of the project, go check Jeff’s dedicated Hwy 20 page.