Frequently Asked Questions
About Trip to Green
Why will the three signals be held in a green phase for US 50 travelers while closing off north and south access at the US 50 intersections in downtown Placerville?
The "Trip to Green" pilot project effort is being conducted for several reasons:
- To reveal the impacts on local traffic movements under the condition of the signals being held in a solid green phase
- To develop an understanding of the conditions on US 50 east of Placerville when traffic is not "metered" by three signals in Placerville
- To demonstrate a possible method of reducing off-highway bypass traffic through Placerville and the resultant local road congestion during peak weekends that results from the use of mobile directional apps
The peak traffic periods during the fall tourist season are usually Friday evenings, Saturday mornings, and Sunday afternoons. Why will the lights be 'tripped' to green lights from 8am - 8pm during select weekends?
Public outreach and set up for the project are extensive and costly. The pilot project is being conducted during select time windows to develop an understanding of the effectiveness during each of the daily peak congestion periods.
Why is it necessary to conduct the study over the course of three weekends instead of one?
Any one weekend can have a number of variables that can impact the daily traffic flow during the peak season. Considerations such as local or regional events, a traffic accident that causes a freeway closure, or perhaps early snow in Tahoe could affect the traffic flow over the weekend. Including three weekends in the study helps smooth those variables to make the data more useful and complete.
Why is this project closing off highway access during the fire season/busy season at Apple Hill?
The busy season in Apple Hill is just one of the many factors affecting locals and businesses by creating traffic congestion on US 50. By implementing Trip to Green in August, September, and October when traffic is at one of its peak seasons, valuable data will be provided as to whether or not this approach would be effective against congestion. This project's intent to reduce traffic congestion on local roads during peak times also means that emergency response times and general safety in and around Placerville will improve.
Instead of tripping the signals to green all day, can Caltrans just extend the green phase a bit longer for US 50 eastbound and westbound travelers during busy weekends?
Caltrans has worked on extending the green phase for 10+ years now to help mitigate the traffic flow. It's currently set at 120 seconds/2 minutes max in the east/west direction and that's the longest setting that can be implemented safely. This is because of the lengthy vehicle stacking/queueing that occurs on the side streets of Bedford, Spring, and Canal, which back up and congest local roads during peak traffic times. Additionally, when the signals are held any longer than 2 minutes, drivers at Canal/Spring/Bedford think the signal itself has malfunctioned and violate the red lights, creating very unsafe and illegal cross traffic movements.
How will this project mitigate the impacts to the downtown businesses during the pilot weekends?
Downtown businesses are already suffering from pass through traffic that is trying to get around US 50 congestion. The traffic impact and length of delays to get through Placerville have swayed travelers to continue past downtown rather than stopping and taking a break at downtown businesses. The Trip to Green project will keep the through traffic on US 50 and free up space to make it easier for visiting travelers and locals that want to stop, and enjoy downtown businesses.
What public outreach efforts were made before this decision was made?
Prior to development of this pilot project, two rounds of public outreach were conducted; one in summer 2019, and another in fall 2020. Outreach efforts included in-person and virtual stakeholder meetings with businesses, public safety organizations, schools, air quality advocacy groups, and others, as well as in-person and virtual community meetings, and an online survey.
How is Trip to Green being funded?
Trip to Green is a component of the US 50 Corridor System User Analysis, Investment Strategy and Access Control Plan being prepared by EDCTC in coordination with Caltrans, the City of Placerville, and with expertise from an engineering consulting firm. The planning project was funded by a Caltrans Strategic Partnership Grant. The "Trip to Green" project is funded with State Transportation Block Grant Program funding that was authorized through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021. This funding is specific to the use and implementation of transportation projects and can only be used as such.
Will there be any alternate detours besides Placerville Drive for residents that live on Spring Street or Canal Street?
Although it won't be an advertised detour route, residents on Spring Street can take Bedford Avenue, turn right/east on Coleman Street, turn right/south on to Clay Street to access Main Street and areas south of US 50. Residents along Canal Street would be best served by taking Bee Street to Coloma Road/SR 49 and turn left/east on Spring Street and follow the detour to Main Street mentioned above or proceed to Middletown Road to Cold Springs or Pierroz Road. Residents may find this interactive map useful in planning detours.
Why are travelers being detoured to Pierroz Road and not Cold Springs Road?
The turning radious at Cold Springs Road and Middletown Road do not meet the necessary standards for freight vehicles. Since it is a detour of State Route 49, it is necessary to ensure these larger vehicles have a navigable option.
How will pedestrians and cyclists safely cross US 50?
Pedestrians and bicyclists will be able to use the two overcrossings of US 50 located at Center Street (near City Hall)/Coloma Street and Bedford Avenue (near the Courthouse). Trip to Green includes detour routes specific to pedestrians and cyclists, as shown below.
In the event of an emergency evacuation how will residents merge onto US 50?
In the event of an emergency evacuation, the closures will immediately be suspended. Public safety personnel will then focus their attention to directing traffic in accordance with emengency evacuation procedures.
Is this safe?
Yes. The project plans and access points were coordinated with police, fire, CHP, emergency services, and traffic engineers to ensure that the Trip to Green project prioritizes the safety of the public.
Will emergency vehicles have access at the closure points?
Yes, emergency vehicles will always have priority at Spring Street/SR 49, Center Street, and Bedford Avenue. Closure points will also be staffed by California Highway Patrol to ensure that emergency access happens in real time as needed.