When Folsom voters outlined the requirements for development south of Highway 50 with the passing of Measure W in 2004, they were adamant that the plan area mitigate its traffic impacts. To accomplish that, the plan includes an abundance of transit improvements, with a road system that is now under construction and developer fees the City of Folsom can apply to provide traffic relief in the city.
Reducing congestion…and emissions
The transit plan designed for Folsom Ranch adds more functional and direct routes to many destinations with improvements to reduce congestion on critical roadways. Before any pavement was laid, the project was noted for its land plan that is designed around transit connections and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In a memorandum of understanding, Folsom and Sacramento County agreed to reduce emissions in the project area by 35 percent – against a standard of 15 percent. The Folsom Plan Area nailed a whopping 42.5 percent.
Several speakers at a public hearing to adopt the specific plan lauded this result. Mike McKeever, then chief executive officer of the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, cited the plan’s “extremely high air quality,” and air quality expert Joseph Hurley reported the plan was “the only project of this size to achieve that much mitigation.”
Master-planning expert Ardie Zahedani, who represented a landowners group, added that much of the credit for the savings can be attributed to a multimodal transit mix that incorporates attractive and convenient alternatives to driving, including bike lanes and sidewalks on all roads. These diverse modes of transportation along with new roadways and freeway interchanges will benefit all Folsom residents. The costs for the transit infrastructure are being borne by the project.
Highlights of the transportation plan:
Alder Creek Parkway. The traffic plan is so varied it is hard to pinpoint a centerpiece, but Alder Creek Parkway is certainly a contender. This arterial road – with traffic flow similar to that of Iron Point Road – will run parallel to and just south of Highway 50. The route, designed to give drivers a comparable alternative to the freeway, is planned to extend from the El Dorado County line to the Hazel Avenue light rail station. The roadway will include bike lanes and six-foot-wide sidewalks.
Transit corridor. To eliminate the challenge of obtaining land and rights of way after a community is built, the Folsom Plan Area includes an innovative transit corridor that can be used for bus rapid transit and future transit technologies. The corridor, designed to allow alternative forms of transit to move commuters off of Highway 50, is planned to run parallel to the highway along Alder Creek Parkway and Savannah Parkway, with walkable access to employment centers, urban parks, shopping and more. The transit corridor is planned to connect with light rail at Hazel Avenue.
White Rock Road. This road is incorporated into the planned 34-mile Capital SouthEast Connector between El Dorado Hills and Elk Grove. The route, planned to be a major arterial joining with Grant Line Road, will allow Folsom drivers to bypass Sacramento to access Highway 99 and Interstate 5. A component of this project has already been completed with the widening and realignment of a dangerous double-curve on White Rock Road just south of Prairie City Road.
Prairie City and Scott Roads. These two roadways already connect to White Rock Road, but they will be improved with bike lanes and wide sidewalks. The work to bring Scott Road (which is soon to be renamed East Bidwell Street) up to modern standards began in May and will be complete by the end of the year. Rowberry Drive, near Iron Point east of Oak Avenue Parkway, will be extended into the plan area.
Two Highway 50 interchanges. New interchanges are planned at the future extensions of Empire Ranch Road and Oak Avenue Parkway. Empire Ranch Road will be lengthened to pick up White Rock Road. The two interchanges will help relieve congestion at the Prairie City Road and Scott Road/East Bidwell Street exits.
Internal transportation. The plan area is designed to make getting around efficient and convenient. Buses will carry passengers to commercial and employment areas, and sidewalks and trails will be designed to provide bicycle and pedestrian access to shopping, schools, parks and events. In addition, the area has been designed to foster convenient access by all modes of transit and keep to a minimum the number of trips residents must make outside the area.
Jobs/housing balance. The plan area is designed with a jobs/housing balance that will allow many residents to live near their employment so they can choose to walk or bike to work. Coupled with trails that lead to shopping and entertainment, residents will have the option to leave the car in the garage for many daily activities.