Friday, April 18, 2014
PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Placerville traffic

By
From page A7 | September 27, 2013 | 11 Comments

EDITOR:

I was amused by the letter from Barbara Zagaris in a recent Mountain Democrat. This problem has existed for the 35 years I have lived here without an ounce of effort expended to solve the problem.

The only solution at this point is to avoid Placerville like a planetary black hole at the beginning and end of the weekend, especially on holiday long weekends. The afternoon of the last work day before the weekend and the afternoon of the last day of the weekend are to be avoided at any cost.

I once suggested in a tongue-in-cheek letter several years ago that the young people that were complaining about no place to hang out and nothing to do be allowed to dig a tunnel under Placerville for a bypass of the traffic signals that seem to be the cause of the traffic nightmare. Of course, this wouldn’t work for obvious reasons unless you turned the project over to CC Meyers to manage, in which case the job would be accomplished seamlessly, on time and under bid cost. It would be comparable to herding a flock of cats but I’ll bet that CC could do it.

There have been similar suggestions, including an overhead bypass roadway above this bottleneck, for solving this problem. Back in the olden days when I was a police officer, we were issued a heavy, old, brass key for opening the traffic signal control cabinets. The key weighed about the same as my handcuffs but I made one out of sheet metal to lighten the load on my Sam Brown belt. When traffic became balled up during periods such as holiday shopping, we could open the cabinet, switch to manual control and operate the traffic signals with a remote control box on a long cord. When the traffic was back under control, the signal could be switched back to automatic and locked back up. The same thing could be done with the traffic signals through Placerville.

First of all, with advance notice to the public, two of the traffic signal-controlled intersections would be blocked with barricades opening up a straight shot for east-west traffic and blocking north-south traffic. The remaining signal would be controlled manually by a police officer, allowing the through traffic to move on through Placerville with occasional changes to allow the local traffic to cross the highway as needed at the one intersection. The local traffic could then be allowed to participate in the mess occasioned by the failure to address this situation. The operator could be a reserve police officer so that the sworn personnel would not be tied up.

This is a simple solution and would be easy to implement. Everybody would be able to share in the pain caused by years of failure to fix the problem. After my 35 years of watching this bottleneck, it will probably be ignored, as have all of my prior suggestions, serious or flippant.

BYRON MOBUS
Cameron Park

Letters to the Editor

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Discussion | 11 comments

  • Charlene HensleySeptember 18, 2013 - 10:40 am

    Good letter, Byron. You forgot to mention how bad the traffic gets when Apple Hill is in full swing. Anyone local should know not to deal with Friday afternoon or Sunday afternoon traffic through Placerville unless they absolutely have to. The locals know a few ways to get around it, but it is better to avoid it at all costs. I hope all those tourists are stopping in Placerville on the weekends to spend their money, because I bet a lot of locals avoid it.

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  • Some QuestionsSeptember 18, 2013 - 11:17 am

    I was a very small child when what was then the new Highway 50 construction was starated , but remember that the concern about having it go elsewhere was about cutting the city off from business provided by travelers, something many other towns had experienced. If you have been here awhile, if not most of your life, you can figure out alternative ways of getting around town when traffic on HW 50 is thick. The apparent cure for the HW 50 drivers would be the construction of about three overpasses, something the state would not want and the city cannot afford. -Kirk

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  • Dink LaneSeptember 18, 2013 - 11:55 am

    I talked with several truck drivers on the job who refuse to go to Lake Tahoe via Highway 50 because of the lights. They go up to Truckee and cut over to Tahoe from there. I wonder if Placerville & EDC businesses have any idea how much they have lost because of the lights and the mess they cause.

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  • JosephSeptember 27, 2013 - 8:13 am

    Any truck driver that wants to drive an extra 75 miles at 4 bucks per gallon to avoid 3 stop lights is a fool

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  • Paddy O'furnitureSeptember 27, 2013 - 8:38 am

    Joseph, fools are the only sorts of people who will talk to Mr. Dink.

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  • Phil VeerkampSeptember 27, 2013 - 8:46 am

    Paddy, I talked with Dink . . . . . . . once.

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  • EvelynSeptember 27, 2013 - 9:25 am

    Since when do we only talk to people we agree with? But, to the subject: The letter writer makes some good points.

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  • cookie65September 27, 2013 - 11:22 am

    If those imaginary truck drivers get to south shore via 89 from Truckee they are dealing with a lot more than 3 lights.

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  • J. OthersideSeptember 27, 2013 - 4:51 pm

    Yes, great letter. I proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the solution is more roundabouts! ...oops, I mean reprogramming the lights. I have done traffic light timing, modelling, traffic flows, etc. and with today's pavement sensors and algorithms it no longer requires a warm body on the street. It only requires several cold bodies in CalTrans to get to it!

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  • Walking TallSeptember 28, 2013 - 6:46 am

    It's not "Rocket Science" look at every other city throught this country and you will see that when approaching a city there is an off ramp into the city. Like lower main street at Canal, exit east bound and funnel the visitors there to be returned to the highway at the end of town at Newtown Road. Remove the three signal lights and install only one overpass at Spring street to connect Hwy 49 North. We already have an overcross on upper Broadway and an under cross at Schnell School road.. exiting the highway is allowed both east/west and no cross traffic would be available thus creating a "Freeway" effect and remove the bottleneck traffic and accidents associated with the three stop lights. No business would be lost as a result as all the east bound traffic that exits the highway would be touring the city from the westside to the eastside. This is the easy solution and is/has been right before our eyes for years, anytime there is cross traffic across hwy 50 we have accidents and the stop and go light regulated slow down cause only accidents and not tourisim. look at what works everywhere USA and you will see the solution has always been there and that's why we have off ramps and the choice to use them. Remove the three lights and loose the traffic problem/accidents, have all "Apple Hill" traffic exit at Schnell School road and loose that as well. We have lost enough lives on Hwy 50 "cross Traffic" and haven't increased any revenue by having it. Problem solved "Remove the three stop lights and add one overcross at Spring street".

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  • J. OthersideSeptember 28, 2013 - 6:33 pm

    WT, also a reasonable solution with a caveat. Traffic calming needs to be incorporated if the lights are removed. The current 40mph speed limit is pretty much ignored as it is but at least is kept below 50mph avg. with the lights. Without the lights it would be a speed free for all unless other measures are added. Not that I'm against natural selection, but don't want to see collateral damages along the way. Still doable but will take more time. In the meantime incorporating some intelligence into the lights timing would be a adequate short term solution.

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