California State Route 174

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State Route 174

Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length13.096 mi[1] (21.076 km)
HistoryState highway in 1933; SR 174 in 1964
Major junctions
South end I-80 in Colfax
North end SR 20 / SR 49 in Grass Valley
CountryUnited States
CountiesPlacer, Nevada
Highway system
SR 173 SR 175

State Route 174 (SR 174) is a state highway in the U.S. state of California. The two-lane 13-mile (21 km) highway in the western Sierra Nevada, added to the state highway system in 1933, connects Interstate 80 in Colfax with SR 20/SR 49 in Grass Valley, crossing the Bear River next to a 1924 concrete arch bridge. The majority of the route is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System, but local residents have blocked its designation due to property right concerns.[2][3]

Route description

State Route 174 begins at exit 135 of I-80 in Colfax. Immediately after crossing I-80, the route turns right on Auburn Street and right again on Central Street, which bypasses downtown; a business route follows Auburn Street, Grass Valley Street, and Main Street through downtown.[4] SR 174 follows the old Lincoln Highway (US 40) north out of downtown to Rollins Lake Road, where the present state highway turns northwest along the Colfax Highway. It then crosses the Bear River from Placer County into Nevada County on a 1987[5] bridge, with the old 1924 bridge preserved for non-motorized traffic. The land flattens out as SR 174 curves north and west through the Empire Mine State Historic Park into Grass Valley. Turning west on Colfax Avenue, the state highway passes under the SR 20/SR 49 freeway before ending just beyond at Auburn Street,[1] the former surface routing of SR 49.[6]

SR 174 is not part of the National Highway System,[7] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[8] SR 174 is eligible to be included in the State Scenic Highway System,[9] but it is not officially designated as a scenic highway by the California Department of Transportation.[10]


The Capital Construction Company began improving the county road between Colfax (on Route 37, signed as US 40) and Grass Valley (on Route 17) under contract on September 29, 1931,[11] and completed the work by mid-September 1932.[12] The state legislature placed it on the state highway system in 1933 as an extension of the existing Nevada City-Downieville Route 25.[13][14] In the 1964 renumbering, the highway received a signed designation, State Route 174.[15]

Local residents created the Colfax Highway Association in 1967 at the Peardale firehouse, about halfway between the two ends, in order to preserve the rural nature of the road.[16] When the 21-foot (6.5 m) wide 1924 concrete arch bridge that took SR 174 across the Bear River on the county line was set for replacement in the late 1980s, the group successfully lobbied to preserve it for non-motorized traffic.[17] The association also pushed for Nevada County's Gold Country Stage bus service to add a route along the highway to Colfax, which was agreed to in late 1998[18] and still runs as Route 12, connecting downtown Grass Valley with Colfax's Amtrak station.[4] After a request by Nevada County in 1988, the state legislature designated the part of SR 174 in unincorporated Nevada County (between the county line and the Grass Valley city limits) as eligible for the State Scenic Highway System in 1991.[19] In 1999, the Colfax Highway Association attempted to get the route officially declared a State Scenic Highway. They argued that the designation would "protect the scenic character and rural flavor of the highway". A newly formed group, Concerned Citizens for 174, opposed the designation because it would restrict the property rights of residents along the highway, for instance requiring them to use "natural colors".[20] The opposition was successful,[3] and SR 174 remains eligible for State Scenic Highway status but is not a State Scenic Highway.[10]

Major intersections

Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured on the road as it was in 1964, based on the alignment that existed at the time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. R reflects a realignment in the route since then, M indicates a second realignment, L refers to an overlap due to a correction or change, and T indicates postmiles classified as temporary (for a full list of prefixes, see California postmile § Official postmile definitions).[1] Segments that remain unconstructed or have been relinquished to local control may be omitted. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.

PLA 0.00-2.88
Colfax0.00 I-80 – Reno, SacramentoInterchange; south end of SR 174; I-80 exit 135

SR 174 Bus. north (Auburn Street)

SR 174 Bus. south (Main Street)
1.63Rollins Lake Road – Rollins LakeFormer US 40 (Lincoln Highway) east
NEV 0.00-10.22
6.83Brunswick Road
Grass Valley10.17
SR 20 / SR 49 (Golden Center Freeway) / Auburn Street – Nevada City, Marysville, AuburnInterchange; north end of SR 174; Auburn Street is former SR 49; SR 20 exit 182A
10.22Neal StreetContinuation beyond SR 20 / SR 49
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c d California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  2. ^ Sacramento Bee, Scenic Highway Concept Spurs Alarm, March 25, 1999, p. N1
  3. ^ a b Dave Moller, Union of Grass Valley, CABPRO's Urke steps down Archived 2011-05-24 at the Wayback Machine, August 7, 2004
  4. ^ a b Gold Country Stage, System Map[permanent dead link], updated September 2006
  5. ^ a b California Department of Transportation (July 2007). "Log of Bridges on State Highways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation.
  6. ^ Google Maps street maps and USGS topographic maps, accessed December 2007 via ACME Mapper
  7. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: California (North) (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  8. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  9. ^ "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets & Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  10. ^ a b California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved September 17, 2017.
  11. ^ Oakland Tribune, Construction Started on Colfax Highway, September 30, 1931
  12. ^ Oakland Tribune, Automotive Section, September 18, 1932
  13. ^ California State Assembly. An act to amend sections 2, 3 and 5 and to add two sections to be numbered 6 and 7 to an act entitled 'An act to provide for the acquisition of rights of way for and the construction, maintenance... Fiftieth Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 767, p. 2035.: "State Highway Route 37 near Colfax to State Highway Route 17 near Grass Valley."
  14. ^ California State Assembly. An act to establish a Streets and Highways Code, thereby consolidating and revising the law relating to public ways and all appurtenances thereto, and to repeal certain acts and parts of acts specified herein. Fifty-first Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 29, p. 277.: "Route 25 is from: (a) Route 37 near Colfax to Route 17 near Grass Valley. (b) Nevada City to Route 83 near Sattley via Downieville."
  15. ^ California State Assembly. An act to add Section 253 and Article 3 (commencing with Section 300) to Chapter 2 of Division 1 of, and to repeal Section 253 and Article 3 (commencing with Section 300) of Chapter 2 of Division 1 of, the... 1963 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 385, p. 1184.: "Route 174 is from Route 80 near Colfax to Route 49 near Grass Valley."
  16. ^ Sacramento Bee, Highway Boosters Stay Ahead of Curve, August 17, 1997, p. N1
  17. ^ Sacramento Bee, Slated for Razing, Span Gets Reprieve, January 14, 1987, p. B1
  18. ^ Sacramento Bee, Bus Route to Penetrate Foothills' Last Transitless Corridor, December 10, 1998, p. N1
  19. ^ California State Assembly. An act...relating to highways. 1991–1992 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 775, p. 3483.
  20. ^ Sacramento Bee, Scenic Highway Concept Spurs Alarm, March 25, 1999, p. N1
  21. ^ California Department of Transportation, All Traffic Volumes on CSHS Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine, 2006

External links