By MIKE MORRIS
A public workshop on the planned Highway 4 Bypass will be held Wednesday a week before Angels Camp City Council members are set to vote on two agreements with Caltrans.
The meeting at 6 p.m. in the Frogeteria Building of the Calaveras County Fairgrounds will feature a panel of Caltrans officials, Calaveras County supervisors and Angels Camp Council members answering bypass-related questions.
"There will be an open forum for the public to comment to their elected officials," said Angels Camp Administrator Tim Shearer. "It's a chance for people to come up and say their piece."
The 2.3-mile bypass would extend Highway 4 at the northern end of Angels Camp where highways 4 and 49 intersect near Frog Jump Plaza. The bypass would be part of Highway 4, and loop around downtown and reconnect near Rolleri Bypass Road. This means Highway 4 commuters won't have to drive through downtown Angels Camp.
But the history of the project which should be completed in six to 10 years isn't that simple.
Plans for the bypass date back to the 1960s, when the California Highway Commission scouted land for the project. Over the decades, there has been debate on whether the bypass would promote or hinder tourism and how homes such as those on Dogtown Road near the intersection of highways 4 and 49 would be affected.
"There are a lot of people who are opposed to it," Shearer said. "Now there's opposition and it's very late in the process. It's down to the point where the City Council will be making the final decision on the bypass."
The city and Caltrans have been in negotiations over the state turning over a stretch of Highway 4 to the city when the bypass is complete. That portion a bypassed section of Highway 4 on the way to Murphys would no longer be state highway.
For the state to hand over the road, it must be in good shape with sufficient asphalt and no potholes or structural problems.