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Wye Road Improvements Project could start by fall

March 29, 2013

These collision-causing, askew through-lanes on Main Street, shown above running left to right, at Wye Road, will be corrected when both roads are widened as part of the Wye Road Intersection Improvements Project and more dedicated turn lanes are added. Storm drains may also be added. Photo by Marilyn Blake Philip

There is light at the end of a tunnel for a City of Bishop Public Works project that will renovate an intersection which has been the site of a higher-than-average number of collisions over the years.
The Wye Road Intersection Improvements Project is intended to reconfigure the Wye Road-North Main Street/U.S. 6 intersection, which lies west of the Kmart/Vons area, thereby creating a throughway that is more clearly and safely navigable.
The intersection has been a concern for local leaders since 2000, when the Kmart/Vons shopping center opened and Wye Road began seeing increased vehicle traffic.
Both roads will be widened at the intersection so “each turn direction has its own lane and so that through lanes align across the intersection,” Grah said. Currently, there are “only left turn lanes and through lanes jog over across the intersection.” If funding is available, “we will also construct a storm drain on Wye Road to help drain the streets and properties in the area and to improve water quality,” he said.
These are not aesthetic decisions as statistics support the need for the project. More than 2,000 vehicles per day use the intersection, according to Statewide Integrated Traffic Record System statistics. Between April 2001 and March 2011, there were 10 accidents at the intersection, all attributed to “failure to yield or improper turns,” Caltrans District 9 Public Information Officer Florene Trainor said.
That may not seem like many accidents, but the intersection has a “higher-than-the-average total number of accidents … more low-severity impacts than might be expected” and Wye Road project renovations should help lower that statistic, she said.
Grah said the project is “essentially ready to go to construction,” however, the city only has one of the two properties needed. “We have been working on the purchase of that property for several years.” In March 2012, the city completed a purchase of a Los Angeles Department of Water and Power parcel located on Wye Road between U.S. 395 and U.S. 6 on the north side.
Grah said that last fall, a purchase agreement was reached on the remaining property, a parcel on Wye Road, from U.S. 6 east to Brown’s Supply. Escrow proceedings began at the end of 2012, “unfortunately, some paperwork that has to be processed by the state had not been done and for the last two months, escrow has been on hold” as a result. Once escrow closes and the City Council accepts the deed, “Southern California Edison will draft the easement they need for the relocation of their power lines.”
Once drafted, the City Council will act to grant the easements to SCE and the utility will start relocating its Wye Road intersection facilities, Grah said. “Verizon is expected to relocate their facilities at the same time.” The relocations “should take six months from when City Council accepts the deed.”
Public Works had completed the majority of the design work on the Wye Road project by the end of February, Grah said, so once utility relocation is complete, Public Works plans to advertise the construction contract for the intersection project, he said. Construction should take two or three months, the director said, and “that will hopefully happen this fall.”

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