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Grades' safety options gain ground


Some projects in a Caltrans study of Highway 120 and New Priest Grade look better than others, the Tuolumne County and Cities Area Planning Council concluded at its meeting last night.

Council members like the short-term improvement possibilities, such as turnouts, a changeable-message sign, a warning sign on westbound 120 regarding Old Priest Grade and weather sensitive gates.

The state study was conducted to see what could be done to make the road quicker and safer for travelers. It was presented to the council by Jane Perez, a senior transportation planner with Caltrans.

The study includes improvement possibilities to the narrow, steep and windy road that leads to Big Oak Flat, Groveland and Yosemite National Park.

Councilman and Tuolumne County Supervisor Dick Pland said he hopes cost-benefit analyses would be performed on some of the projects mentioned in the study, such as the changeable-message sign, which could cost up to $400,000.

That would be a quarter of the money needed for all the study's short-term goals, Pland said.

Perez said an analysis would be done.

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