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Safety group hopes to bring light to Lone Star

Grass Valley resident says life not the same after head-on collision
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Grass Valley residents Deborah and Bruce Jones are hoping to continue a campaign for highway safety at a North Auburn intersection. On Dec. 19, 2003 the Joneses were in a head-on collision on the highway in Nevada County. The collision totaled their three-quarter-ton diesel truck and sent Deborah Jones to the hospital with major injuries, including broken ribs and a head injury. Two years later to the day, the Joneses were near the scene of an accident that almost mirrored there’s, except two people were killed. The accident happened almost a mile from there own collision site. “We knew it was bad,” Deborah Jones said. “I saw it on the front page of The Union and called the reporter who wrote it and said, ‘We have to do something. We have to stop this.’” Citizens for Highway 49 Safety was born to spread the word about the Jones’ mission to add safety elements to the road leading from Auburn to Grass Valley. Resident Chet Krage was also part of the effort. The Joneses formed a Safety Corridor Task Force, which includes members of the California Department of Transportation, the California Highway Patrol, the Nevada County Transportation Commission and the Nevada County Board of Supervisors. In 2006 the group set up the Safety Corridor on the highway, which runs from Dry Creek Road in Auburn to McKnight Way in Grass Valley. The corridor requires residents to turn on their headlights during daylight hours. After a recent head-on accident on Aug. 19 at Lone Star Road and Highway 49, the Joneses said it’s time to beef up their campaign in North Auburn, which they hope will result in a traffic light being installed at the intersection. The Joneses said the main issues with the Lone Star area are speed and the fact that it has no middle lane for people to turn left into. Deborah Jones said it is very difficult for people pulling out of either side of Lone Star to judge the speeds of oncoming traffic, and the couple has expressed its concerns about speed limits to Cal Trans in the past. “Our thing with Cal Trans is, the speed limit is 55, people are going 65,” she said. “(If) the speed limit is 65, people are going 75. We would like to see a controlled intersection at Lone Star.” Bruce Jones said the couple is hoping to stop potential deaths or more major injury accidents at that intersection. “Once you are in one of those accidents, your life is never the same,” Deborah Jones said. “It needs to be a controlled intersection and if not, they need a refuge lane to go into. They need somewhere for refuge they don’t have now.” Deborah Jones said the couple hopes to work with Lone Star resident Jack Lowery, who spoke out about his concerns over the lack of a traffic light, and others who are interested in their cause. They then plan to get in touch with Placer County supervisors to discuss the issue. Mark Dinger, spokesman for Cal Trans, said the department is currently investigating possible traffic control options for that area. “That’s kind of what is going on now,” Dinger said. “They are going to do what is called a traffic study in that area and look at some different options, and maybe (this) week come up with a solution.” Dinger said the department welcomes the input of people like the Joneses and has had some success working with similar groups in the past. Jocelyn Maddux, aide to Placer County District 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery, said Montgomery had heard about the issue and is hoping to look into it as soon as this week. The intersection falls in Montgomery’s district. Maddux said she also talked to Lowery about the issue Friday. Placer County District 3 Supervisor Jim Holmes said he is also aware of the issue. “That intersection, and that whole section, has always been problematic,” Holmes said. “When I took office, I looked into a stop light there with Cal Trans, and of course they gave me the same explanation they still are holding to, that it causes other problems if you put a stoplight in there. I know … the Cal Trans folks and our Public Works Department said they are taking another look at that intersection. The county would certainly take part in that if there was some interest from Cal Trans.” Lowery said he hopes the county will get involved and thinks the Jones’ campaign is a good one. “I’m kind of hopeful that the Placer County politicos will get involved, just like they are doing up in Nevada County,” he said. “Deborah’s group seems to be doing some great stuff and has been doing it for a long time. They have a lot of community support.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ For more information on, or to contact, Citizens for Highway 49 Safety and the Joneses, visit citizensforhighway49safety.com.