Dixon Ranch traffic study debated
The traffic study for the proposed 209-home high-density Dixon Ranch project predicts that it won’t bump any of 21 intersections studied to another Level of Service grade by 2016.
The 6,892 daily trips anticipated at buildout in 2025 don’t fare much worse. With no mitigation, the report predicts that only two intersections would fall a full LOS letter grade, Silva Valley Parkway at Appian Way, which is downstream of the project’s secondary access in the Highland Hills subdivision, and the already troublesome entrance to the project’s easterly neighbor, Green Springs Ranch, Green Valley Road at Deer Valley Road, the site of several accidents and many close calls in recent years.
The analysis proposes developer-funded improvements at those two intersections, plus five other impacted intersections, including a traffic signal at the project entrance on Green Valley Road and extra lanes at key congestion points:
• westbound through lane on Green Valley Road at El Dorado Hills Boulevard
• southbound through lane on El Dorado Hills Boulevard at Highway 50
• a second left turn lane on Harvard Way at Silva Valley Parkway
• northbound right turn lane on Silva Valley Parkway at Appian Way
• northbound right turn flare lane, 25 feet, on Green Valley road at Deer Valley Road
• Right turn lane on Francisco Boulevard onto El Dorado Hills Boulevard, planned as a maintenance project this year.
The traffic report’s Table 12 predicts the cumulative impacts of Dixon Ranch plus other proposed projects in the area at seven surrounding intersections in 2025, with and without the proposed road improvements.
It concludes that the road work mitigates the additional Dixon Ranch trips and the other anticipated growth, including the approved projects in the area, leaving no affected intersection at the unacceptable LOS “F” level.
The two El Dorado Hills Boulevard intersections currently at LOS “F”, at Francisco Drive and at Green Valley Road, are improved to levels “C” and “E” respectively.
Green Valley Road Alliance spokesman Bill Welty challenged the veracity of the traffic study and wondered how the current two-lane Green Valley Road could possibly handle the projected 80 percent of 6,892 daily trips, on top of all the traffic generated by five other proposed projects along the nearby Malcolm Dixon Road.
DOT civil engineer Eileen Crawford and traffic engineer Natalie Porter defended the report, explaining that it uses a gravity-based traffic model that assumes drivers will generally take the shortest route to common, pre-loaded destinations.
The county contracts with Dowling and Associates to maintain and administer the model and solicit bids for traffic studies, but not to conduct them, said Crawford.
Welty questioned the report’s conclusion that just 20 percent of the trips would use the secondary access, suggesting that at least half of the Dixon Ranchers would choose the more direct route through Highland View.
He also questioned the report’s conclusion that that 23 percent of the daily trips would access the subdivision via Green Valley Road from the east, and that 81 percent of the trips will occur outside commute hours.
“Think about where those cars are headed,” said Welty. “Most of the jobs, all the schools, the closest shopping, they’re all the other way.”
Neighboring Sterlingshire and Green Springs Ranch residents have long complained about the danger of their intersections. Members of the nearby LDS church have been known to invoke their Higher Power before attempting a left turn onto Green Valley Road after church. “Yet the traffic study doesn’t mention public safety,” said Welty.
He dismissed the traffic study’s short-term fixes and optimism, suggesting it was based on either a flawed traffic model or flawed data. He predicted that congestion on Silva Valley Road would worsen substantially when its new freeway interchange opens.
“We’re not opposed to development,” Welty concluded. “We recognize property owners’ rights, the need for progress and the county’s economic issues, but there has to be a balance in how community and rural regions blend. We can’t sacrifice the quality of life that defines El Dorado Hills and El Dorado County.”