highway 16

Dramatic changes along the Highway 16 corridor and what to do about them were the talk of a special community meeting held Thursday night in Plymouth.

Amador County Transportation Commission Executive Director John Gedney led the meeting, which discussed the relinquishment of State Highway 16 east of Grant Line Road in Sacramento County. Under relinquishment, this section of highway will be turned over from the state to Sacramento County and converted to a boulevard as part of a planned large-scale housing development in the area, which could bring in tens of thousands of new residents, as well as adding at least 10 – and as many as 26 – stops along what is the main highway connection from Amador County to the Sacramento metro area.

Travel times are expected to increase greatly, as much as doubling in some estimates. The changeover will have impacts on those who travel to Sacramento for work, shopping and medical care, as well as impact tourism and visitor-related industries such as wineries.

Gedney was realistic in his assessment of the situation. With the state legislature and Governor approving the legislation despite lobbying from Amador County and ACTC, the project is going to proceed, the highway turned over, and the new developments built.

However, ACTC intends to challenge the relinquishment in court, particularly the environmental review, as a way to force Caltrans to acknowledge the traffic impacts of the projects and force mitigation measures to address those impacts.

ACTC has long led Amador County efforts to fight the Highway 16 relinquishment. Members of the Commission, such as former Supervisor John Plasse, testified against it at the state capital and several officials have lobbied various levels of government, from Caltrans staff to the Governor’s office, in attempts to delay or even stop the transfer.