In 1984, Frank Kopita helped build the second home on Mineshaft Lane in Shingle Springs and he has a house on Elf Wood Lane that intersects with Mineshaft. They are both quiet residential streets with custom homes — but the entrance to Mineshaft Lane is directly across the street from the entrance to the student parking lot at Ponderosa High School, and Elf Wood intersects Meader Road and Mineshaft.
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As more and more single passenger vehicles come to the high school, partly because of California law limiting underage drivers from transporting passengers, congestion coming into and out of the Ponderosa lot can be enormous. Rather than waiting in a lengthy back-up to turn into the lot from Ponderosa Road, high school drivers have been using Elf Wood and Mineshaft as a bypass. With Mineshaft lining up with the entrance to the parking lot, it’s a straight shot across Ponderosa Road into the parking area.
The bypass puts a lot of traffic on two residential roads. “They drive fast and some of them blow right through the stop sign at Elfwood and Mineshaft,” said Kopita. “The street has mostly retired people living there and they have a lot of young grandchildren. It’s dangerous.”
For the past two years, Kopita has been trying to get a safe resolution to the problem. “I’ve contacted the school, the school district and El Dorado County Department of Transportation. The problem really started when the high school district reconfigured the parking lot and lined up the entrance with Mineshaft about two years ago,” said Kopita.
Neighbors, according to Kopita, have hundreds of videos of cars speeding down the streets and through the stop sign. Kopita himself has been out taking photos of stop sign violations to send to the California Highway Patrol, which is monitoring the situation.
Kopita said he had also observed a school bus using Elf Wood and Mineshaft Lane to get to the high school and that Meader is not always busy when cars going to the high school cut down Elf Wood. He said he had also heard that at a recent assembly Ponderosa students were told to report anyone taking pictures of them and a harassment complaint could be filed.
“Several students stopped in the past and asked me why I was taking pictures and when I explained, they were polite, understanding and respectful,” said Kopita.
Homeowners, high school district representatives, CHP and others met to discuss the issues brought forth by Kopita in April and again in June. Traffic flow, stop sign violations and the entrance to the Ponderosa parking lot were discussed.
El Dorado Union High School District Superintendent Chris Hoffman said, “We are trying to be good neighbors and we’re willing to work with the county to alleviate the issue.” Hoffman maintains that the realigned parking lot entrance is a better, more efficient way to get kids on campus safely.
“It’s (Mineshaft Lane) a public road, so there isn’t much we can do about it, ” said Hoffman. “We have participated in meetings with the residents, the county, CHP and Sheriff’s Office to find a solution that will alleviate the problem and still get our kids on campus in the safest way.”
Darryl Brown, traffic superintendent for the El Dorado County Community Development Agency said, “The two streets are public roadways so student traffic and school buses can use them. There has only been one accident in the past three years on those streets and it had nothing to do with high school traffic.”
Brown said a traffic and engineering study had been completed and sent to the Traffic Advisory Committee for review and recommendations. The Traffic Advisory Committee is composed of representatives from CHP, the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department, County Risk Management and the El Dorado County Department of Transportation. The Traffic Advisory Committee will make recommendations about the issue and send them to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.
“The TAC meeting is open to the public,” said Brown, “and the homeowners and high school district will be invited. The county is willing to work with everyone to come up with a common solution. After our meetings in April and June, I feel we’re getting close to a resolution.”
No date has yet been scheduled for the TAC meeting.
Contact Wendy Schultz at 530 344-5069 or [email protected] Follow @wschultzMtDemo on Twitter.