By SHARON STELLO
With success of the Black Oak Casino, traffic in the Tuolumne area is up by 60 percent or more.
Traffic increases throughout the county generally follow population growth, which has been averaging 2 percent or 3 percent a year, said Darin Grossi, deputy director of county transportation.
Much of the rise in Tuolumne area traffic, he said, can be attributed to success of the casino which attracts 10,000 to 15,000 visitors a week.
The Department of Public Works takes periodic counts at various locations. On Tuolumne Road near Summerville High School, Public Works reported 3,081 vehicles per day from Aug. 5 to 6, 1999, compared to 5,038 vehicles per day from June 25 to 26, 2001.
On Tuolumne Road North at the railroad tracks, 1,725 vehicles per day from Aug. 5 to 12, 1999 were counted, compared to 3,081 vehicles per day from June 11 to 15, 2001.
And on Cherokee Road at Covers Apple Ranch, 1,890 vehicles per day were counted from Nov. 2 to 8, 2000, compared to 2,132 vehicles per day from June 20 to 25, 2001.
There is more traffic out there, but I dont know if there is any real issue with that, said Peter Rei, director of the county Department of Public Works.
Rei said the roads have the capacity to carry more traffic, but there may be congestion at intersections.
Tuolumne residents say theyve noticed some increase in traffic, but nothing significant.
In fact, Paula Crist of Baker Avenue in Tuolumne said she is surprised there isnt more.
Ive noticed a slight increase in traffic, but not what I expected, Crist said. I havent noticed it being a real detrimental problem.
Joe Whitmer of Carter Street in Tuolumne said traffic is slightly heavier in the evenings and on weekends, but its bearable.