Citizens for Highway 49 Safety

Founders Bruce and Deborah Jones

Our Mission

"The mission of Citizens For Highway 49 Safety is to SAVE LIVES NOW on Highway 49 from Dry Creek Road to McKnight Way. Our immediate focus is reduction of speed, enhanced enforcement, and center safety barriers to reduce serious and fatal accidents. We strive to fulfill our mission by promoting public awareness, proposing safety solutions, identifying available funding sources, and working collaboratively with responsible agencies to accomplish our goals."

The Joneses 3/4 Ton Duramax Diesel Truck

The Beginning

The group, "Citizens for Highway 49 Safety" was formed by Bruce and Deborah Jones who were hit head-on on Highway 49 December 19, 2003. Two years to the day and at the same time of day, another head-on happened just a short distance from where their accident had taken place. This time though there were fatalities. The accident was so similar to theirs that they knew they were spared for a reason and had to do something to stop the carnage on Highway 49.

In January of 2006 the group was formed and the first town meeting was held at the local High School on January 18, 2006. Over 300 concerned citizens and public officials attended. After the meeting, the group was able to create a Safety Task Force with local officials to address the many problems of the Highway and work together to reduce the number of accidents and fatalites on the road. The "Citizens for Highway 49 Safety" are pleased that our new Nevada County Supervisor Ed Scofield has shown great concern regarding safety on Highway 49 and we look forward to working with him.

Our group's work to make Highway 49 safer and this Website is dedicated to all of you who have lost a loved one on 49, been injured in an accident, work the accidents on this road, or travel it.

These are the statistics from Combie Road North to McKnight Way and do not include the South section of Highway 49 to Dry Creek Road

2005 Nine Fatalities

2006 Five Fatalities

2007 One Fatality

2008 One Fatality

2009 Two Fatalities

2010 Two Fatalities

Center Divider Demanded

By Robyn Moormeister, The Union, January 19, 2006

Residents sound off at Highway 49 meeting. Fed up with fatal accidents and desperate for immediate solutions, local residents made it clear they want center dividers installed on Highway 49 between Grass Valley and Auburn at Wednesday night's community meeting.

Dozens of Alta Sierra and Lake of the Pines residents took turns at the microphone at the Bear River High School multipurpose room, arguing their points to Caltrans representatives, who say there are currently no plans to install center barriers.

Many of the residents were accident victims, family members of people killed in head-on collisions and mothers with high-school aged children who battle with traffic on the highway every day.

Shirley Thomas of Alta Sierra tearfully explained to the crowd of approximately 300 what is was like to spend her 36th wedding anniversary without her husband. He was killed last April in a head-on crash on Highway 49, when a driver swerved to miss some deer and hit the truck in which he was a passenger. Their anniversary was shortly after his death.

"I sat alone and cried," she said.

Thomas said a center barrier probably would have prevented her husband's death and the latest $500,000 project proposed by Caltrans -- a continuous rumble strip, reflectors and improved signage -- will not prevent such severe collisions.

"I don't think a rumble strip will stop this kind of head-on," she said. "We need more than a rumble strip and we need it soon."

Svend Nance lost his sister-in-law, Julie Trathen, to another fatal crash on Dec. 19, 2005, when Christopher Leighton, 18, of Auburn drove his car across the double yellow lines to pass two vehicles and struck her truck head-on. Leighton also died in the crash.

"I can't help but think a center barrier would solve the problem," said Nance, a retired firefighter for the Sacramento Metro Fire Department. "They would keep vehicles from crossing the road."

Tom Wood, Deputy District 3 Director of Caltrans told the crowd that the road is too narrow for center dividers and that rumble strips and reflectors will improve motorist awareness and discourage illegal passing for now.

Eventually, Caltrans would like to widen the highway to five lanes, but there is currently no funding available for that kind of extensive project, he said.

Other members of the audience encouraged the crowd to write to their state representatives to plead for a share of state funds available for transportation safety improvements, money currently earmarked for urban areas under Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's strategic growth plan.

Addresses for state representatives such as Assemblyman Rick Keene (R-Chico) and Senator Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) will be listed on the Nevada County Transportation Commission's Web site, starting this morning, said Dan Landon, the commission's executive director.

"Send in your letters," Landon said. "We need to make the governor's program a statewide program that will include rural areas."

To contact Union staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@the or call (530) 477-4236.

Safety Task Force Formed

A special Safety Task Force was formed after the "Save Lives Now" meeting which was held January 18, 2006 at Bear River High School in Grass Valley, Calif. The group was formed to enable "Citizens for Highway 49 Safety" to work closely with public officials to reduce serious and fatal accidents by promoting public awareness and proposing safety solutions to our dangerous and deadly stretch of highway. The Safety Task force members are Bruce and Deborah Jones (Founders, Citizens for Highway 49 Safety), Chet Krage, Brad Weston, Battalion Chief, Higgins Fire, Jerry M. Good, Sue Horne (Supervisor, Second District), John Spencer (Supervisor, Third District), Tom Wood (CalTrans District 3 Traffic Operations), Robert Peterson (CalTrans Traffic Safety), Anne Marie Robinson (CalTrans Transportation Planner), Dan Landon (Nevada County Transportation Commission), John Rumsey (Nevada County DOT), Lt. Chuck Whitmore (GV CHP), Sgt. Mike Lawrence (GV CHP), Sgt. Jerry Morgan (GV CHP) and Capt. Rick Ward (Newcastle CHP).

Posted: March 25, 2006

Community Support

Arrive Alive

Firefighters at Nevada County Consolidated Fire Station 88 have shared their thoughts on Highway 49 safety by posting a pair of signs asking drivers to Arrive Alive, Drive 55. "We are also very tired of seeing the fatalities and serious injuries on Highway 49 so we had these made as our reminder to our community," said Chief Tim Fike, whose firefighters responded to 11 of the 12 fatal accidents on Highway 49 in 2005.

Highway 49 in Nevada County has seen numerous accidents and 12 fatalities in the last 13 months. Grass-roots efforts are underway to make the heavily-traveled road safer.

Posted: March 22, 2006


CALSTAR - Saving Lives Every Day

The Citizens for Highway 49 Safety proudly announce the addition of CALSTAR to this web site. Our community is extremely fortunate to have the CALSTAR helicopter and its highly-trained crews available to care for and transport to the nearest trauma center victims that have been severely injured in Highway 49 accidents. We encourage you to please click the link to their page where you will find additional information about this nonprofit group and how you may become a member. Bruce and Deborah Jones have been members for 10 years.

Logo Contest for New Highway 49 Safety Signs

Art and Government Students from Bear River High School (GV), Forest Lake Christian School (GV) and Chana High School in Auburn will be participating in a contest to design a logo for the new "Highway 49 Safety Corridor" signs starting from Dry Creek Road in Auburn and ending  at McKnight Way in Grass Valley. 

The new signs will measure 96" wide x 48" tall and will announce the entrance to the Safety Corridor. All entries are to be received by May 1, 2006 and the winning entry will be decided by the "Highway 49 Safety Task Force" that was formed after the January 18th meeting at Bear River High School.

Posted: March 25, 2006

Winning Entry Chosen For Highway 49 Safety Corridor Artwork

May 9, 2006 Members of the Highway 49 Safety Task Force took on the difficult job today of choosing a winning entry for a logo that will appear on signs announcing the entry to the new Highway 49 Safety Corridor. The signs will be posted in four locations along the Highway, starting at Dry Creek Road in Auburn and ending at McKnight Way in Grass Valley.

Art students from Bear River High School and Forrest Lake Christian School submitted outstanding designs for the contest. It was a difficult job for the group to choose just one. We were all pleased to see so much talent from our local students.

After taking a vote, a design by Bear River High School student Jessica Agnew was chosen.

Members of The Highway 49 Safety Task Force: Standing, from left: Capt. Rick Ward, Deborah Jones, Chet Krage, Dan Landon, Bruce Jones, Ann Marie Robinson, Supervisor Sue Horne, M.A. Lawrence and Chuck Whitmore. Seated: Shelly Chernicki and Tom Wood.


Jessica Agnew's Artwork Chosen For Highway 49 Safety Corridor Logo

LAKE OF THE PINES - Losing a close friend in a fatal car crash on Highway 49 prompted 17-year-old Jessica Agnew to use her artwork to alert motorists to slow down on the deadly stretch of highwa

"One of my best friends, Jamie Jones, was killed on Highway 49 last year," said Agnew, a Bear River High School senior. "She was only an 18-year-old."

Members of the Highway 49 Safety Task Force chose Agnew's artwork, among 23 entries, to adorn signs alerting motorists that a portion of Highway 49 will be designated as a Safety Corridor.

The signs will be posted in four locations along the highway starting at Dry Creek Road in Auburn and ending at McKnight Way in Grass Valley.

"Hopefully people will slow down," Agnew said. "That's what we're trying to do."

Agnew didn't elaborate on the painful memories of losing her close friend, but did say she was glad she could do something to make the public aware of the dangers on the highway.

An excerpt from The Auburn Journal



Highway 49 Safety Corridor Sign Installed

By Robyn Moormeister, The Union, June 17, 2006

Caltrans workers Pat Day, right, and crew member Eddy Long install a safety corridor sign Friday morning at Highway 49 and Combie Road after a Highway 49 Safety Corridor Designation Event ceremony at CDF-Higgins Fire Station on Higgins Corner. The designation includes mandatory daylight headlights, an increased Highway Patrol presence for speed controls, and the addition of rumble strips.

Caltrans workers Pat Day, right, and crew member Eddy Long install a safety corridor sign Friday morning at Highway 49 and Combie Road after a Highway 49 Safety Corridor Designation Event ceremony at CDF-Higgins Fire Station on Higgins Corner. The designation includes mandatory daylight headlights, an increased Highway Patrol presence for speed controls, and the addition of rumble strips.

↑ Reprinted with permission from The Union The Union photo: Louise Caulfield

What is a Safety Corridor ??

A Safety Corridor is segment of highway with a history of high fatal collisions (McKnight to Combie) or a segment of highway with potential for fatal and severe collisions (Combie to Dry Creek) that is identified and focused on by state and local officials with increased enforcement, public awareness measures, short-term improvements and long term improvements in order to reduce and prevent fatal and severe collisions. Safety Corridors that have been created on highways around the state are typically two-lane high-volume highways with a cross-centerline or run off the road collision history.
The Safety Corridor status sometimes qualifies CHP to obtain additional money for enforcement through California State Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), (currently not available for Highway 49); however, increased enforcement and CHP presence supported by the local CHP jurisdiction improves motorist adherence to speed limits and the rules of the road. Increased public awareness is accomplished through signing, advertising and other outreach to increase awareness of motorists to drive safetly. Short-term improvements often include creating a daylight/headlight requirement, new signs and markers, and the placement of centerline and shoulder rumble strips. Long-term major improvement projects are also pursued for the Safety Corridor through normal funding programs.

In summary, the purpose of the Safety Corridor designation and effort is to:

  • Increase CHP enforcement to improve driver behavior and safety
  • Increase motorist awareness to drive more safely on this segment of highway
  • Short-term improvements to increase awareness and improve safety
  • Long-term improvements to upgrade or widen the roadway

Segments of highway identified as Safety Corridors have been very successful statewide in reducing the fatal collisions. In particular, Safety Corridors with a soft barrier rumble strips such as on Highway 25 in San Benito County and Highway 46 in San Luis Obispo County have had significant reduction in fatals collisions in the years after the safety corridor designation and improvements made. Highway 25 went from 14 fatalities to 0 fatalities for a comparable two years after (100% reduction) and Highway 46 went from 20 fatalities to 3 fatalities for a comparable three years after (85% reduction).

Hopefully, the Safety Corridor designation and improvements we make on Highway 49 will have similar success.

↑ Thanks to Thomas P. Wood, Chief, Office of Traffic Operations, Dep't of Transportation

Rumble Strips

In response to the proposed rumble strip project, the Office of Traffic Operations performed a detailed review of all head-on collisions over the last 5 years between Wolf/Combie and McKnight to determine how many may have been prevented by rumble strips. Of 28 total head-on collisions, 16 were caused by drifting across the centerline or shoulder for various reasons (fell asleep, inattention, etc). Based on this review, 40 to 60% of these collisions could have been averted with centerline and shoulder rumble strips that will be constructed as part of the $500,000 project. In addition, at other locations in California, the reduction of head-on collisions on two-lane roadways as a result of a soft barrier rumble strip has been reported to be up to 80%.

↑ Contributed by Thomas P. Wood, Chief, Office of Traffic Operations, Dep't of Transportation

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