Chris Caskey, The Union Democrat

A project to upgrade Parrotts Ferry Road from Highway 49 to Sawmill Flat Road in Columbia is making its way through multiple planning boards as the Tuolumne County Transportation Council seeks to secure funds for the proposal.

The plan calls for setting up a permanent right-hand turn lane at the Highway 49 intersection, adding a left-hand turn pocket on Parrotts Ferry at Union Hill Road and some other safety improvements.

The proposal also seeks to give the intersection a facelift by adding community gateway features like a decorative barrier and Columbia sign. Finally, the project will add a transit stop near Union Hill Road.

The plan made its way through Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors Transportation Committee last month and will be discussed by the Columbia Area Planning Commission on Feb. 21.

Darin Grossi, executive director of the Tuolumne County Transportation Council, said this week that planners should have a cost estimate for the improvements in the coming weeks. Planners will then seek funding sources before moving on the environmental review process, Grossi said.

"We hope to have it under construction a year or two from now," he said.

Completion is expected before the 2014-15 fiscal year.

That stretch of road is one of the most heavily travelled in the county outside of major highways and Sonora city streets, Grossi said. Traffic monitoring reports show 11,100 vehicles pass along Parrotts Ferry Road every day south of Sawmill Flat Road, 7,900 north of Sawmill Flat and 2,300 drive on Sawmill Flat itself.

Sawmill Flat Road leads to Columbia College, while Parrotts Ferry Road leads to Columbia State Historic Park and eventually Calaveras County.

The traffic numbers are expected to increase by almost 80 percent by 2040, according to computer modeling reports, Grossi said.

Details of the improvement plan can be found on the transportation council's website,