Message from Executive Director Mike Luken


Executive Director Mike Luken

Welcome to the summer edition of the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency newsletter. We appreciate the opportunity to keep you informed about important local transportation topics in the Placer region.

At PCTPA, we realize better than anyone that traffic jams are much more than just an inconvenience. They can be a matter of life and death. Viable roadways also can be the difference between economic prosperity and scarcity for a region. Transit enables workers to conveniently commute to jobs. As the congestion management agency for the county, we are constantly doing everything we can to address the problems – and improve the quality of life for all residents in our region.

Bottlenecks on our highway system – like the 80-65 interchange — can have a disastrous effect when an ambulance is trying to reach a patient or get that patient to a hospital. Traffic jams can cause delayed response times for police officers trying to reach an accident or a crime scene. And as we’ve seen in too many Northern California wildfires the past few summers, blocked traffic can lead to fatal outcomes when people are trying to flee in an emergency. The county Office of Emergency Services is working on a countywide evacuation plan which will rely on a modern transportation system.
Adding capacity to regional highways and freeways is a key part of that because of our growing region. Unfortunately, while SB 1 (the Road Repair and Accountability Act) helps fill potholes and maintain roadways, it doesn’t fund projects designed to increase capacity. We still need to identify sources of money to help with the expansion of roadways.

With much of the focus on roadways, we of course should not forget about railways. We are in the midst of the Capitol Corridor’s Third Track project that provides an important link between Placer County and Sacramento (and by extension the Bay Area). Hundreds more riders on the Capitol Corridor line each day will help take the pressure off the I-80 corridor.

Phase 1 is a $78 million project to build a third track that will allow the Capitol Corridor passenger rail line to increase from one round trip daily to three. Phase 2 would result in an expansion from three trains a day to 10, which would mean roughly hourly service during commute times. Phase 1 is funded, with construction to start in 2022 or 2023. We’re still trying to solve the funding puzzle for phase 2, but SB 1 is a possibility for some of it.

Increasing rail isn’t the only effort being made to reduce traffic in the region. The Placer-Sacramento Gateway Plan area includes the I-80 / Business 80 corridor from Auburn to downtown Sacramento as well as the SR 65 corridor from Lincoln to I-80. The planning effort will look at potential improvements to all modes of travel including car, truck, rail, bus, and walking/ bicycling to ensure our communities’ safety, accessibility, and quality of life. Take the short online questionnaire and help PCTPA, SACOG, CCJPA, and Caltrans improve traffic in the region:

Please stay informed and involved in the process as we try to meet our area’s transportation needs. Have an enjoyable and safe summer.