Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Suburban Sprawl leading to a increased commute time on Hwy 16

Changes to State Route (SR) 16 may soon greatly impact residents of the South Rancho Cordova community. What has been known as a scenic route in Sacramento County since 1934, connecting historic Amador County to Rural Sacramento County, all the way down to urban downtown Sacramento maybe look more like a busy city road in 10-20 years due to Sacramento and Rancho Cordova-based urban sprawl.

Caltrans plans to relinquish control of Highway 16 from Florin-Perkins Road to Grant Line Boulevard to Sacramento County and the City of Sacramento. (East of Grant Line will remain under CalTrans jurisdiction; that portion will remain a rural State Highway Route.) In the State Legislature, Assemblyman Dickinson has introduced AB 1957, which would authorize the California Transportation Commission to relinquish to the City and County of Sacramento the discussed portion of SR 16 west of Watt Avenue, granting authority and maintenance duties to the State and County. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_1951-2000/ab_1957_bill_20140306_amended_asm_v98.pdf

The argument is simple: that portion of SR 16 is no longer a highway, rather a surface street for residents to get from point A to point B day-to-day. What once was used to connect urban California to rural California is now mainly used as a daily commute route for locals.  As population has increased, so has the density of traffic, increasing the need for stop lights to keep the flow of traffic efficient and safe. Also, local officials would like to add center divides, cross walks, bus stops, bike lanes and more access points to keep up with the changing needs of the road and encourage walking and bicycle activity.

Sacramento County is proposing to:
  • Decrease the speed limit from 55 MPH to 45 MPH
  • Add 12 additional stop lights  (there are currently 8 in this segment)
  • Add 9 additional access points to SR 16
  • Increasing the current 2 lane system to either 4 or 6
  • Add bicycle lanes
  • Add Bus stops
  • Add landscaped center divides
Sacramento Department of Transportation is proposing 12 additional stop lights-for a total of 19- along this 8 mile stretch of highway. Couple the new stop lights with the proposed decreased speed limit of 45 MPH, and we are talking longer commutes for us Kavalaians and residents of Anatolia. A study conducted on behalf of Sacramento County (State Route 16 Corridor Study) analyzed current traffic conditions and highlighted the need for Sacramento County’s proposals.

Proposed intersections with lights:

A. Future Rock Creek Parkway & Jackson Road
B. Aspen 1 Access & Jackson Road
C. Realigned Mayhew & Jackson Road
D. Access Road & Jackson Road
E. Vineyard Road Extension & Jackson Road
F. Access Road* & Jackson Road
G. Access Road* & Jackson Road
H. Access Road* & Jackson Road
I. Excelsior Estates Access Road & Jackson Road

*Access Road" is just a temporary name.

Amador County has voiced serious concern for this proposal because of the increased travel time. (We’ll talk more about the potential impact to Amador County in a later blog entry).

Sacramento County is planning on doing this project in phases over the next 10 to 20 years. The county, CalTrans and other local agencies are still in the planning process and meeting often to discuss the future of SR 16. County of Sacramento Supervisors, County of Sac Civil Engineers, Sacramento County Department of Transportation (Director) City of Rancho Cordova Public Works Director, City of Sacramento Transportation Director, City of Sacramento Senior Planner, Sacramento Area Council of Governments Manager, Director of Transportation & Chief Executive Officer, Sacramento Regional Transit General Manager, and numerous stakeholders from CalTrans all have a say at the planning table.
The final plans are yet to be seen, but we can be assured SR 16 will be changing with our area’s development.  Sac County plans to more than doubling the number of lights; it will no doubt make the roads safer, more efficient and user friendly; however there will definitely be increased travel time.
It's hard to say definitively how much longer the commute time will be. When you consider they are adding additional lanes along with the stop lights, it will definitely increase the efficiency in traffic along this segment of highway 16. Sac County is initially estimating a 12 minute drive time in ideal traffic conditions while Amador (who has conducted their own study) argues it will take closer to 20 extra minutes.
Submitted by guest blogger, Katie Masingale, a proud Kavala Ranch resident.
From the Cordova Advocate: According to Google Maps, that section of 9.8 miles should take 12 minutes to travel. In current mid-afternoon traffic, Google estimates 14 minutes. And from experience, taking my kids to school, it’s already nearly 20 minutes during morning and evening commute times. An extra 20 minutes will mean traveling from Kavala Ranch to the Raley’s shopping center on Folsom and Julliard will take up to 40 minutes one day.  At one time Watt Avenue and Sunrise Boulevard were rural roads used as expressways but their efficiency was diminished by converting them to city roads. The residents of and visitors to the South Rancho Cordova region, the Grapevine region of Sac County and Amador County all use Hwy 16 as an expressway and it's a valuable alternative to congested Hwy 50 traffic. Perhaps planners should consider retaining Hwy 16's traditional integrity has a a rural route. Keep the speedlimit and install less lights. Use interchanges and less local road connections.