Hwy 50: Signal shift to ease fall backups

By From page A1 | October 02, 2013

Famous El Dorado County destinations such as Apple Hill, the Rubicon Trail and South Lake Tahoe are now easier to reach.

In consultation with the El Dorado County Transportation Commission, El Dorado County and the city of Placerville, Caltrans recently retimed the signal lights on U.S. Highway 50 in Placerville to facilitate eastbound and westbound traffic flow.

On weekends until the Christmas close of apple season, signal lights at Canal Street, Spring Street and Bedford Avenue will be timed to maximize Highway 50 traffic flows. Based on computer modeling, Caltrans has programmed a combination of preset signal cycles to smooth actual traffic volumes at various times of the day. Signals that normally permit 120 seconds of highway traffic will be extended up to 180 seconds and optimized to assist flow between intersections.

These new “Apple Hill” plans were first used over the Labor Day weekend, some adjustments were made, and now the plans are in effect and running through the end of the Apple Hill season. The new signal timing may also be used on other high-traffic holiday weekends and parts of ski season. Traditional signal timing will remain during weekdays.

“The immense regional popularity of Apple Hill is evident in weekend traffic,” said Sharon Scherzinger, executive director of the El Dorado County Transportation Commission. “This project really began at a meeting between Supervisor Brian Veerkamp and the Apple Hill Growers Association.”

Scherzinger expects that local traffic circulation will also be improved. Although motorists crossing north or south through the Highway 50 intersections will have a longer wait, the project will minimize the gridlock that can altogether prevent north-south traffic from crossing the highway.

Ann Wofford said the Apple Hill Growers Association sees the project as a “win-win.”

Cal Trans

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