Improvements to the Interstate 5/Highway 89 interchange are one small step closer to being realized after the Mount Shasta City Council approved a set of Caltrans’ tentative plans by a split vote.

Improvements to the Interstate 5/Highway 89 interchange are one small step closer to being realized after the Mount Shasta City Council approved a set of Caltrans’ tentative plans by a split vote.

Mayor Russ Porterfield, who serves on the Local Transportation Commission, assured his fellow councilors  at Monday night’s meeting that their decision was not to approve any of the suggested plans, which concentrate on improving the safety of the interweave near the South  Mount Shasta exit on I-5. without removing the ramp completely. Instead, they were approving the alternatives to be used for design and cost estimates going forward.

Though all the councilors had questions and comments for Caltrans representatives Mike Webb and Derek Willis, Porterfield and councilors Ned Boss and Tom Moore gave their approval to move forward. Councilor Tim Stearns voted against the concepts, arguing there’s no use encouraging Caltrans to move forward with a plan that the council isn’t likely to support later on. Councilor Michael Murray was absent.

The preferred alternative adds both left and right turn pockets for northbound traffic on Highway 89 at the intersection of Mt. Shasta Boulevard, as well as a left turn pocket for southbound I-5. Webb said this would be a “significant improvement” to the current intersection, which was constructed in the 1960s.

The plan would also realign a portion of South Mt. Shasta Boulevard to make it consistent with design speed in order to take out the dangerous curve that currently exists.

The plan would also reverse the direction of traffic on the one way I-5 overcrossing, close the existing northbound I-5 onramp and construct a new one about a quarter mile up the freeway, Webb explained.

Also present at the meeting to express their concerns were Fred and Vicki Erickson, who live near the Highway 89 and South Mt. Shasta Boulevard intersection. They were concerned that the maps being used by Caltrans were outdated and did not show their home.

Property owner Charlie Moss was also present hear the proposed plans, and insist upon alternate ways to access his acreage.

Though the plans are complicated, Willis assured the council and the public that all their concerns would be researched and solved during the design and right-away purchasing phase of the project.

The project would not be completed for several years, most likely in 2018 or 2020, Porterfield said. The money will come from the Local Transportation Commission.

Though Caltrans studies show an accident rate that is higher than statewide averages, the amount is not enough to make the project a necessary one for safety purposes.