John Knight navigates road work plans

Outgoing supervisor discusses approved work and possible projects in future
By: Art Garcia, Telegraph Correspondent
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A number of El Dorado Hills road improvement plans have been approved and “are going to happen,” said outgoing El Dorado County District 1 Supervisor John Knight. So will others, but they’ll be a long time coming.

One of the biggest projects will be the widening of White Rock Road from what will be the Silva Valley interchange at Highway 50 west to the Sacramento County line.

“We anticipate going out for bid on the interchange probably some time next year, hopefully with the start of construction in the spring of 2013. Completion would be at least a two to two-and-a-half-year project,” said Knight, who has been termed out of office, effective Jan. 7.

The White Rock expansion will be from two to four lanes at different points on the road. From the Sacramento County line, through property south of Highway 50 that was annexed by the City of Folsom, the road will have four lanes continuing west.

“That project has been approved and is in the works,” Knight said.

Improvements at the intersection of White Rock and Latrobe Road are complete “so we’re just matching the rest of the roadway there,” he explained.

Work is under way again on Highway 50 at the El Dorado Hills Boulevard on- and off- ramps, a project that widens the highway at El Dorado Hills, re-routes the westbound off- ramp and relocates the west bound on-ramp.

“That’s about a $16 million job,” said Knight, who is wrapping up his second four-year term as a county supervisor. “Depending on weather and some other things, that could be finished in the fall of 2013 or spring of 2014.”

The improvements will eliminate the signal light sequences north of the freeway at El Dorado Hills Boulevard. “If you’re coming southbound on El Dorado Hills Boulevard and you want to go westbound on Highway 50 there will be a metered on-ramp that will get you on Highway 50 and you won’t have to stop at any lights,” he said.

Asked whether El Dorado Hills residents and other drivers meanwhile will ever see the present signal lights there synchronized, Knight laughed. He said CalTrans controls the interchange and the county has to coordinate its signals with how the agency sets its.

“By eliminating some of the traffic signals there, it will be better synchronized,” he said. “Will they always be synchronized? Never. It will just be better.”

A busy roadway that needs a major facelift won’t be getting a full makeover for a while. The fix for Francisco Drive, from El Dorado Hills Boulevard north to eastbound Blue Ravine/Green Valley Road, “is just way too expensive,” said Knight.

A patch job has been done to fill potholes on Francisco “and that’s the extent of it. That’s as good as it’s going to get,” he said.

The county transportation department is designing a right-turn-only pocket at Francisco and El Dorado Hills Boulevard to ease the heavy flow of traffic that gets backed up in the morning and evening.

Preliminary plans are to eliminate the whole intersection but, noted Knight, “quite frankly, that is five to 10 years down the road.”

Other works not yet in progress but likely to be completed in the next five years include a connection from Latrobe Road to White Rock that will flow traffic out of the El Dorado Hills Business Park and the south area of the town to avoid the Latrobe/White Rock intersection.

“It will connect at entrance three, Golden Foothill Parkway, then swing south and go through the Carson Creek subdivision up to the county line and intersect, basically where the future alignment of the Empire Ranch subdivision hits White Rock,” Knight said.

The timetable for that? Probably in the next three to five years. “The Empire Ranch interchange might not even happen in my lifetime,” the supervisor said. “It’s planned and the right-of-way has been acquired but the construction cost is probably $30 million.”

Further out, perhaps five to 10 years, is extension of Iron Point Road from Folsom to Saratoga in El Dorado Hills. “We have the environmental document. What we don’t have is the right-of-way acquired,” he said. “Right now, that right-of-way would be cost-prohibitive to try to go after it.”

Another major road project involves the Silver Springs subdivision off Green Valley Road at the Pleasant Grove Middle School. That project eventually will straighten curves on Bass Lake Road.

Knight, 65, who has been a commercial real estate Realtor more than 35 years, has no specific plans for when he’s out of office, other than possibly consulting “and some other things I’m kicking around.”

He and his wife, Georgi, live in El Dorado Hills.