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.