A scheduled 30-minute item turned into a two-hour, wide-ranging discussion that included the need for what could be called a “county vision.” Agendized as a report to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors about conditions on Green Valley Road and a staff recommendation to hire a consultant to do an analysis, the July 30 board discussion included some thoughts of, “What do we want the county to look like?”
That notion contained competing visions of rural landscapes versus increased housing density in the future, roadway safety improvements but not too dramatic, economic development without becoming San Jose.
Community Development Agency engineer and long-range planner, Claudia Wade, briefly described her division’s suggestion that a study might be warranted to determine how to improve conditions on the West Slope’s second busiest east-west traffic corridor. At the base of any traffic analysis is the reality that several new housing developments have already been approved in areas that could have a significant impact on Green Valley and its smaller feeder roads. Projections vary from moderate to unacceptable effects creating gridlock and Level of Service F (Failing) on the area’s roads, mostly Green Valley.
The study area that supervisors eventually approved is Green Valley Road between Ponderosa Road on the east to the Sacramento County line on the west. That stretch is included in the county’s nearly completed Travel Demand Model, which also takes into account the residential projects that have been approved.
Supervisor Brian Veerkamp opened the concept of a vision when he suggested, “We need to determine what we want before we get initiatives jammed down our throats.”
Board Chairman Ron Briggs followed up, acknowledging, “There’s some congestion somewhere on Green Valley Road … We need to be sure we’re on the right path. Do we want four lanes on Green Valley? I’m not so sure that’s what we want.”
Veerkamp later noted that the $35,000 cost of the traffic study “is cheap for what we need.”
Don Van Dyke representing the 400-member Green Valley Alliance, told the board that his group has 360 signatures requesting that the county do the study, but, “We’d like to keep some of the rural sections rural.” He noted that the Dixon Ranch project (with more than 700 homes proposed on 280 acres) “will have significant impact on Green Valley Road.” He also said, “It really is Level Of Service F on workdays.”
A 30-year resident said she “can’t turn left at Malcolm Dixon Road because of the traffic,” and another speaker described conditions at a couple of intersections as “hair-raising.”
Alliance member Kelly Garcia told supervisors, “Everyone in my family has been rear-ended on Green Valley Road or Salmon Falls,” and that speed studies that have been conducted are “flawed. We’d like a reduction in rear-enders and speed,” she said.
Earlier, Garcia said the housing projects that have already been approved would add 9,300 vehicle trips per day to the road system and that the primary issue is safety, while others urged the board to fund the traffic study, citing its future value as a planning tool.
Joel Korotkin, one of the developers of the Dixon Ranch project, expressed agreement with many of the speakers, however, from a somewhat different perspective.
“Developers love studies,” Korotkin said. “We want to see how a project will fit in. But understanding (the results of a study) is a problem.”
Again Briggs broadened the discussion, asking, “How do we want this to look? And the trick is finding the money to do what we want.” He added that he prefers that Green Valley remain a two-lane road.
Supervisor Ray Nutting channeled former supervisor Jack Sweeney when he pointed out the county’s need to plan for traffic moving north and south as well as traveling east and west. That is, as the population grows, “and it will grow,” emphasis needs to be on the larger roadway system and not just in the immediate areas being developed, Nutting said.
Supervisor Ron Mikalaco, in whose District 1 much of the growth is taking place, described a “tremendous amount of traffic and hazard to the children near Pleasant Grove School. The issue is speed,” Mikulaco said and called Deer Valley at Green Valley Road “a terrible intersection.”
Deer Valley Road, a loop road, intersects Green Valley Road in two different locations.
The final board action was to direct county staff to “move forward” on the project, first by identifying a funding source for the $35,000 study cost and next to develop a draft scope of the work needed.
Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected]. Follow @CDaleyMtDemo.