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Author Topic: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA  (Read 3571 times)

Inyomono395

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US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« on: February 10, 2016, 09:30:06 PM »

For decades Cal-Trans has been upgrading US 395 from a 2 lane conventional highway to a 4 lane expressway. The last section of US 395 in Inyo country to be upgraded is the area in and near the small community of Olancha. The Cal-Trans preferred alternative is a bypass of the community which has Olancha residents in an uproar. Although the bypass alternative seems to be the much safer option, Olancha residents don't want to lose the business highway traffic brings into the already struggling town. Olancha residents claim the bypass alternative is unfair because the other towns on the US 395 corridor in Inyo country (Bishop, Big Pine, Independence, Lone Pine) got to keep the highway running through town as "Main ST." If the bypass alternative is chosen the current alignment will be turned into a combination of a local road and an extension of SR 190, a major state route taking year round visitors to Death Valley National Park.

I was originally in favor of the alternative keeping the highway in town, but after reading the draft environmental impact report the bypass option seems to be the superior alternative.

I would love to hear other people's thoughts and opinions on the subject.
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Quillz

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2016, 10:02:25 PM »

Can I see a map of where the bypass might run? Olancha seems to be nestled pretty tight between the Sierra to the west and Owens Lake to the east.

Even then, I drive through Olancha when going to Mammoth and have rarely, if ever, stopped there. Honestly, I'm surprised people would stop there in the first place. There is a little tiny shack that sells beef jerky, otherwise, the town seems to have a few houses, lots of abandoned homesteads, and not much else. It's not so much that other communities like Bishop haven't been bypassed, it's that those communities have things to offer to motorists. I've never felt compelled to stop in Olancha, and the 395 running directly through it hasn't changed that.
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Inyomono395

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2016, 11:35:34 PM »

Can I see a map of where the bypass might run? Olancha seems to be nestled pretty tight between the Sierra to the west and Owens Lake to the east.

Even then, I drive through Olancha when going to Mammoth and have rarely, if ever, stopped there. Honestly, I'm surprised people would stop there in the first place. There is a little tiny shack that sells beef jerky, otherwise, the town seems to have a few houses, lots of abandoned homesteads, and not much else. It's not so much that other communities like Bishop haven't been bypassed, it's that those communities have things to offer to motorists. I've never felt compelled to stop in Olancha, and the 395 running directly through it hasn't changed that.

http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist9/projects/olancha/
Here is a link to the project website. The video shows where the bypass alignment will run.

Like yourself, not many people stop in Olancha. Besides the jerky Shack all the town has to offer is a gas station/mini mart and a small diner. If the bypass happens the current 395 through Olancha will become SR 190 and will still get the traffic going to Death Valley National Park. Also, the current alignment will still get the truck traffic going to the Crystal Geyser bottling plant while the bypass would move thru traffic freely.

If 395 was widened on its current alignment it would have a 65 Mph speed limit through town, unlike the other towns on the 395 corridor which have 25-35 Mph speed limit. Also, a widened alignment would have current businesses about 10 ft from the edge of the highway. If the bypass is built it would be a 4 lane expressway with a 100' median.
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Quillz

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2016, 11:45:04 PM »

Okay, I think I see what they want to do, run a bypass to the west. In that case, which direction would they take CA-190? Have it run north or south to the newly realigned US-395? I would imagine south, since the CA-136 already exists for southbound motorists.
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Inyomono395

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2016, 12:15:53 AM »

The bypass would be to the west, close to the base of the Sierras, which would give travelers a beautiful view. The extension of SR 190 would be to the south, through Olancha, terminating at an intersection with the newly aligned US 395.

A bypass is the most logical and safest option, it gives people a chance to stop in Olancha if they want to, but doesn't force them. Like you previously stated, Olancha doesn't offer many reasons to stop. I don't understand why anyone, besides the few business owners, wouldn't want a bypass.
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andy3175

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2016, 12:30:54 AM »

I had wondered about the Olancha segment and had thought the roadway expansion would cut right through town and alongside the Crystal Geyser plant. I am glad to see a bypass is being pursued instead. I think this will be safer and allow Olancha a chance to regain its main street. Hopefully it can weather the loss of the through traffic and can find a way to increase tourism in town; after all, the Eastern Sierra is a beautiful area.
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Inyomono395

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2016, 01:10:11 AM »

I think olancha would be a much more peaceful town without all the traffic. Maybe they could even install sidewalks and make it a pedestrian friendly town. If the community pulls together they can keep olancha alive. They could turn that mobil station into a full on truck/RV stop. It would give people a reason to pull off the highway and spend money in Olancha.
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coatimundi

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2016, 06:46:44 PM »

The bypass would be to the west, close to the base of the Sierras, which would give travelers a beautiful view. The extension of SR 190 would be to the south, through Olancha, terminating at an intersection with the newly aligned US 395.

This sounds similar to what was done with CA 146 west in Soledad. 146 officially begins at the southern interchange with the business loop and follows the business loop north to its old terminus, routing people through the Downtown area to reach Pinnacles National Park. There is no sign for CA 146 at the northern business loop interchange, so you're actually going a bit out of your way to reach 146 if you follow the signs.

I assume this would create a new BL US 395.
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The Ghostbuster

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2016, 03:42:02 PM »

Olancha seems like an awfully small town to make a bypass necessary. Are the traffic counts high enough to warrant one?
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DTComposer

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2016, 04:10:28 PM »

Olancha seems like an awfully small town to make a bypass necessary. Are the traffic counts high enough to warrant one?

According to Caltrans, AADT in 2014 at the US-395/CA-190 intersection was 5,500.
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nexus73

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Re: US 395 bypass of Olancha, CA
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2016, 09:15:14 PM »

In the interests of safety, a bypass strikes me as the best solution.  Wide spots in road with lower speed limits encourage faster than posted speed driving through them.  We don't want the CHP doing revenue enhancement or having T-boners going on. 

Some day I hope all of US 395 from SoCal to Reno is upgraded to 4-lane.  There are more people in LA County than in any state west of the Rockies besides California.  The road network has to handle megalopolis loads for trucking as well as passenger transport.  The more alternatives the better in case of situations like the I-10 washout.  A 4-lane US 60 extension going from Arizona to Twentynine Palms and thence to I-10 would have been nice to have around. 

Rick
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US 101 is THE backbone of the Pacific coast from Bandon OR to Willets CA.  Industry, tourism and local traffic would be gone or severely crippled without it being in functioning condition in BOTH states.

 


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