The Chicken Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California are planning to build a roundabout at Highway 108 and Mackey Ranch Road in an effort to improve traffic safety near the entrance to its casino in Jamestown.

Representatives of the tribe will give a presentation on the project to the Tuolumne County Transportation Council at a public meeting scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. Wednesday.

At the same meeting, the council will also consider approving a final budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year and extending the contract of TCTC Executive Director Darin Grossi for an additional five years.

The roundabout project also involves extending Mackey Ranch Road to serve as the new main entrance to the casino, in hopes of reducing traffic along Chicken Ranch Road for tribal members and residents in the area.

“Chicken Ranch Road will still be open, but our goal is to get all of our traffic off that road to make sure tribal members, team members and community members are safer coming in and out of there,” she said.

Caltrans is working closely with the tribe on the project and will serve as the lead agency for the environmental documentation that’s required before any construction can begin, according to Stephanie Suess, project manager and director of community and resources for the tribe.

The tribe started working with Caltrans in 2012 regarding concerns over the existing intersection at Chicken Ranch Road and Highway 108, around the same time as completing a major yearlong renovation of the tribe’s Chicken Ranch Casino.

“We’ve been looking at this for a long time,” Suess said.

In 2017, the tribe went back to Caltrans after hiring traffic engineers GHD and completing the required traffic and environmental studies.

Suess said that Caltrans determined a roundabout, as opposed to signalized intersection, would be the best and safest option based on the results of the studies.

One of the other goals Suess noted is to slow down vehicles along Highway 108 through Jamestown.

The project is estimated to cost just under $4 million, all of which is being funded by the tribe.

Suess said the Army Corps of Engineers is reviewing plans for the project and working out some agreements with Caltrans, which will have final approval of the project.

Tuolumne County officials were also consulted about the project and told the tribe it would be between them and the state because they didn’t see how it would impact the county, Suess added.

Caltrans has been looking at building more roundabouts through the state, as well as the county, in recent years.

Grossi stated in an email about the presentation on Wednesday that roundabouts “have been proven to keep traffic moving, greatly reduce major injury or fatal accidents, and have significant air quality benefits compared to standard traffic signals or stop controls.”

The meeting will be held in the Board of Supervisors’ chambers on the fourth floor of the County Administration Center at 2 S. Green St. in Sonora.


Contact Alex MacLean at amaclean@uniondemocrat.com or (209) 588-4530.

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