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New traffic info system ruffles some city feathers


The California Department of Transportation has road information to broadcast.

But its preparations to do that came as an unpleasant surprise to Angels Camp officials who issued a stop-work order recently when they discovered Caltrans dug a 30-foot hole near a city sidewalk without a permit.

Caltrans has put up signs alerting drivers on highways 49 and 4 to tune in to AM 1610 when they see the signs' lights flashing. The radio setting will broadcast information about road conditions, closures and detours.

The next step is to erect a 49-foot broadcast antenna on the Caltrans property on Monte Verde Street in Angels Camp.

However, no one told the city.

"They've dug a 30-foot hole about 7 feet from the sidewalk," City Administrator Tim Shearer said. "It's outside their fence, right beside the sidewalk.

"Caltrans did not confer with us; they got no encroachment permit. There are real safety concerns here."

CalTrans and city officials will meet at 2 p.m. today to discuss the issue.

Shearer said building department personnel had gone to the work site and stopped the project.

He's concerned about safety and aesthetics, he said.

"They're putting a radio tower right on a city street which is the main access to the police and fire departments, and the future site of city hall," he said.

Robert Spradling, Caltrans spokesman, said the broadcasting equipment looks like a fiberglass light pole. The overall height will be 49 feet — a 35-foot pole supporting a 14-foot antenna.

Spradling said he and Shearer had been discussing the road information system since March, but conflicting schedules had made it difficult to get together.

He said work would continue on the antenna because the city's stop-work order doesn't apply to the state.

The antenna has to go where Caltrans has planned it, because that's the most effective spot, and the traffic information system is critical to public safety for the area, he said.

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