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Taylor Road interchange closure sparks community debate

By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Area business owners and citizens voiced concerns over a transportation proposal to eliminate the Interstate 80/Taylor Road interchange. During a hearing last Wednesday at the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency, the Rocklin Area Chamber of Commerce President Franklin Burris told board members Taylor Road needs to stick around. “We do have a lot of concern and opposition to any closure to the Taylor Road and how it impacts traffic at the Rocklin Road interchange and Stanford Ranch/Highway 65 interchange,” Burris said. Controversy erupted after a Caltrans study recommended eliminating the I-80 Taylor Road off ramp to allow room for a proposed $280 million connector improvement project. The project, in its early stages, would also widen the East Roseville Viaduct to add high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes and a three-lane flyover connector between I-80 and Highway 65. Cattlemens Restaurant has sat on Taylor Road at the top of the I-80 off ramp since 1975, but changes to the freeway interchanges have hurt their business. “When Caltrans closed the westbound exit to Taylor Road in the 80s, it impacted our business for years,” said Cattlemens CEO Wayne Holloway. “It confused people and they made the decision to go elsewhere.” Candy Stephenson’s family has owned property along Taylor Road since 1947 and said how construction crews operate has always been a concern for her. “They tend to notify you too late to do anything about it,” Stephenson said. Stephenson said she’s ready to sell the property and move on. Celia McAdam, the executive director of the PCTPA, told board members the controversy could sabotage the project. “The reality is controversial projects don’t tend to get funded,” McAdam said. “No matter how you slice it, this is going to be an expensive project. If there is not a consensus locally as well as with the feds and the state, this project is not likely to move forward.” Rocklin City Council member Kathy Lund said the public needs to be involved before it’s too late. “If you don’t voice your concerns upfront, sometimes the decisions are made and they’re hard to unmake,” Lund said. The board voted to move forward with an environmental impact study which could take two years to complete before any decision would be made about Taylor Road. “We’ve gotten the message loud and clear, there is a lot of concern about the Taylor Road closure,” McAdam said. “We’re going to start the public process and it is going to take a long time.” Transportation officials are planning a series of public workshops slated for the fall.