By SUNNY LOCKWOOD
Calaveras County is about to get another traffic light. In addition to the two in Angels Camp one at Highways 4 and 49 and one at Highway 49 and Murphys Grade Road work has begun in Murphys for a third traffic signal.
Caltrans crews were busy yesterday digging trenches at the intersection of Highway 4 with Tom Bell Road to the south and Big Trees Road to the north in Murphys.
The trenches will accommodate conduit for wiring for the traffic light at that intersection, said Mike Honma, Caltrans resident engineer.
Backhoe work at one corner was halted for a time when crews found slate and other rocks indicating there might be historical artifacts in the region.
Robert Spradling, chief of executive services branch for Caltrans District 10, said the crews stopped work so a Caltrans archaeologist and environmental planner could evaluate the site.
"No artifacts were found," he said. "They determined work could continue."
The work will go on today and next week, weather permitting, Spradling said.
The crews will complete foundation work forming the base for the light pole, and then Caltrans will wait for the poles to arrive, which, Honma said, could take months.
He said the poles are individually manufactured to meet the requirements of the site where they are to be placed.
"Our poles are coming from Union Metal out of Ohio, and we're not sure when they'll arrive," he said.
A mobile home park sits on the Tom Bell Road side of the intersection. The residents of Murphys Diggins, an over-55 mobile home park, asked that a traffic light be installed at the intersection.
When a crash occurred there in May 2001, killing a Murphys Diggins resident and seriously injuring his passenger, Caltrans installed four-way stop signs at the intersection.
Spradling said the traffic light is being installed now because the traffic volumes measured by Caltrans traffic safety engineers say a signal light is warranted.