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More safety improvements to Highway 70

Caltrans is making a 22-mile stretch from Oroville to Marysville a daytime-headlight zone, as they continue a long-term plan to widen the highway to 5 lanes.

Posted: Mar 6, 2019 3:08 PM
Updated: Mar 6, 2019 5:57 PM

Butte Co., Calif. -- “We have acreage and property right along the highway so all my life we've seen accidents,” said Yuba County resident Pamela Warmack.

In 9 years, 35 people have died in car crashes along highway 70 between Marysville and Oroville. And it's getting worse - 13 of them were killed in 2017 alone.

"It's a place to be very cautious not to pass people, time yourself so you have time to get to where you're going. Most of the deaths have been related not to drugs or alcohol but people passing in the wrong place," said Butte County Supervisor Bill Connelly.

With a little help - and extra nudging- from state and county leaders, Caltrans now has a $48.6 million plan in place.

The first phase of the project will widen Highway 70 to 5 lanes from Ophir Road down to Palermo and it should be done by next year.

Within three years the highway will be 5 lanes all the way to the Yuba-Butte border.

"If we have to do one-way traffic control it will be done at night, the project should have minimal disruption for commuters, everybody should be able to get where they want to go," said Knudson.

But some people who live along 70 are worried.

"We're concerned that there will be more accidents - greater speeds, people not paying attention and there is cross-traffic throughout the year of agricultural equipment, slow moving vehicles and there are over 200 driveways," said Warmack.

The work will start in July, but in the meantime, turn on those headlights; 22 miles from Oroville to Marysville is now a daytime - headlight zone. Caltrans says this can drop head-on fatalities up to 23%.

You'll also see wider striping near the Yuba-Butte county line, radar speed detector signs and more rumble strips to let you know if you're drifting from your lane.

"I think the safety measures are great but they're just temporary," said Connelly.

At least, the new additions are something most everyone is on board with.

"We've asked for the daytime headlight section and it's great to see that that will be done," said Warmack.

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