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Amador County Traffic Crisis Predicted by 2025

By Ray Estrada

Jackson planning commissioners accepted a report that said while no overwhelming support exists for an exact road-building plan, doing nothing to remedy Jackson´s Highway 88 Corridor traffic problems would pose a dilemma in the wake of future development in the area.

After the Jackson Planning Commission accepted the report, the executive director of the Amador County Transportation Commission, Charles Field, said his agency does not want to stop development, but the city should do something to slow it down.

“Traffic will double by 2025,” Field said. “Let´s get back to working on this and talk about what we are going to do about it this summer.” Field said he will discuss the report at Monday´s Jackson City Council meeting and Jan. 31 before the Amador County Board of Supervisors.

Unfortunately, the “Jackson SR-88 Corridor Improvement Alternatives Analysis” did not accomplish its main objective to find one plan that the county´s residents favor to improve the flow of traffic, Field said. Town hall meetings have been held since 2004 on the issue.

Instead, the analysis said, “Based on input from the (project oversight committee) and local residents at the town hall meetings, there is no overwhelming public support for any alternative” discussed in the report. “In fact, many residents stated that they would prefer to do nothing and let traffic congestion continue to get worse,” the report said.

But Field said the “do nothing” approach clearly is not an alternative, even though its effects were outlined in the report, which said in part that increased traffic means more gridlock, air pollution, lack of access to frontage properties and the need for more safety improvements. The other alternatives include: a North Jackson Bypass, known as Corridor 2; a Ridge Road/Climax Bypass, know as Corridor 3; and a West Jackson Bypass, known as Corridor 5.

Field also said the Corridor 3 alternative is not acceptable and noted its project cost of $106 million in today´s dollars. “The state is not going to send that kind of funding,” he said. The report said the Corridor 3 alternative would mean right-of-way property acquisition of 31 acres, and “many homes and properties will potentially be affected.”

With a current price tag of $24 million, the Corridor 2 alternative north of Jackson would require 18 acres of right-of-way acquisition, possible displacement of about four homes near Jackson´s Main Street, and the split of a neighborhood “by extending an elevated roadway structure through the area.”

Carrying a current cost of $61 million, the Corridor 3 alternative through areas of Jackson west of highways 49 and 88 along Clinton Road would mean right-of-way acquisition of 54 acres, the report said.

The transportation commission initiated the analysis project in July 2004 “to identity potential corridor improvements and/or bypass options to improve traffic conditions along the SR-88 corridor through downtown Jackson and east to Pine Grove.” The analysis also said, “No new construction will occur as a a result of this study.”

Reprinted with permission from the Amador Ledger Dispatch