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  • Writer's pictureWTS Sacramento

Recap - August 2019 Lunch Program

On Friday August 30th, WTS welcomed Director of El Dorado County Department of Transportation, Rafael Martinez to present on El Dorado County's Apple Farms Traffic Circulation Improvement Pilot Project 2018.

Every fall, thousands of visitors travel to Apple Hill to pick apples and enjoy the scenic area of El Dorado County. However, these high volumes of travelers congest the Apple Hill area's narrow rural roads, causing hours of delay. For the 2018 season, El Dorado County partnered with El Dorado County Transportation Commission, El Dorado Transit, the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, Caltrans, and the California Highway Patrol to pilot a traffic circulation and shuttle project.

In his presentation, Rafael Martinez stated the project had four goals:

  1. to provide better emergency access,

  2. to provide better access for residents near the Apple farms,

  3. to relieve congestion, and

  4. to improve the visitor experience

Over the project’s short six-month planning process, El Dorado County and it’s partners determined the best way to accomplish these goals was to eliminate westbound general traffic for a portion of Carson Road, creating a shuttle-only lane along the busiest route in Apple Hill. By removing the general traffic from the most congested portion of the Apple Hill region, the shuttle could run a 30 minute route around to 10 different orchards.

Overall, the shuttle was a success. It had more than 3,500 daily boardings and was standing room only during peak travel times. The shuttle route also took passengers to other parts of the agricultural area often overshadowed by the three biggest farms. Despite these successes, the shuttle will not be returning for 2019 apple-picking season. Because the project was funded with one-time sources, it would require greater financial partnership with the apple growers to be funded in the future. To that end, Rafael reminded anyone travelling to Apple Hill to come early or come on weekdays to avoid congestion.

Thank you Rafael for presenting on this interesting pilot!

Emily Abrahams with Rafael Martinez

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