why save hwy 174

Highway 174 is recognized as one of the most scenic and historically rich highways in the Sierra Nevada Foothills. Our organization, Save Hwy 174, consists of affected property owners, residents and citizens of Nevada County who support reasonable safety improvements, but are concerned with the current design standard for the widening and realignment project proposed by Caltrans for a 1.9 mile portion of Hwy 174.

The CalTrans plan would:

· CLEAR CUT more than 1700 conifer trees, plus an undisclosed number of other trees

· REMOVE all vegetation to a minimum of 64 feet, and more on hillsides

· CONFISCATE over 14 acres of homeowner property on either side of the existing roadway

· SPEND nearly $28.5 million for less than 2 miles of road

Our concerns are:

ENVIRONMENTAL: The environmental impact of this project has not been properly reviewed. No formal EIR has been submitted. CalTrans estimates that 1700 Sierra conifers and an unspecified number of oaks and other deciduous trees – would be removed. This would affect local climate and air quality as the CO2/O2 exchange of the trees is lost. Animals, too, are endangered by this project, among them the yellow-legged frog.

SAFETY: The data cited by CalTrans to support the need is cherry-picked to include only a 3-year spike in accidents, including the only fatalities in 12 years. Numerous studies have proven that wider roadways increase speed and the severity of the collisions. The safety focus should be on how to slow drivers down not create opportunity for reckless driving.

ECONOMIC: Local residents and visitors, especially the property owners along Highway 174, will be severely impacted. Farms, homes, and lands will be confiscated, destroying lives and property values. Entering the ‘improved’ portion of the road will be more difficult and dangerous, with higher speeds encouraged by the wider road. And more than $28 million will be spent on less than two miles of road.


- To create a Highway Design Standard and Right-of-Way Width for the Project Area that is significantly reduced in scope than the current proposal, but while increasing the safety for motorists and residents.
- To minimize impacts to residents who front or use Highway 174, and preserve rural and scenic quality.
- To significantly minimize forced seizures of private property by the State
- To significantly reduce the impacts to and the loss of biological resources, including native trees and vegetation, wildlife and nesting habitat, and natural waterways
- Have Caltrans re-assess their preferred alternative by actively engaging with community and local leaders through workshops or public forums.

Download a copy of our Position Statement