A new gateway arch and signal light on Auburn Boulevard has been proposed by City staff to welcome drivers and pedestrians to the city and help define the border between Roseville and Citrus Heights.
Two different gateway sign options were presented by City staff during a council meeting on Feb. 11, with one design sporting an integrated traffic signal and arch, and the other featuring a small “welcome” marker in the median strip, similar to others around the city. In a slide presentation, a photo of an archway in downtown Hayward was modified to show how the arch could look on Auburn Boulevard, with staff superimposing “City of Citrus Heights” on top of the arch.
Citrus Heights Development Specialist Devon Rodriguez told council members the proposed location would be in front of the Kmart and Smart & Final shopping center on Auburn Boulevard, between California Burger and Wells Fargo. She said the design options were being shared with the council to receive general direction and feedback, with no vote required at the current stage.
Business owner comments
A total of three business owners spoke at the meeting during public comment, all in favor of the Hayward-style arch.
“We overwhelmingly liked the gateway archway, especially the one in Hayward,” said Richard Hale, Chairman of the newly formed Auburn Boulevard Business Association and owner of Walt’s Auto Service in Citrus Heights. He said City staff had shown various options to his association, and business owners preferred how signal lights were incorporated into the Hayward archway.
Kimberly Berg, who owns the Citrus Heights Car Wash at the corner of Antelope Road and Auburn Boulevard, told council members that the arch would make a “great statement” and create a “memorable experience” for those coming into the city from the freeway or Roseville.
Council members respond
Several members of the council expressed a preference for the integrated signal and archway, although questions were raised about cost, and whether a new stoplight would be too close to existing traffic signals.
“I know that the center median option is going to be very inexpensive compared to the [archway],” said Councilmember Mel Turner, who said he preferred the arch design but wanted to see the costs involved before giving a recommendation. “[The arch] is a statement; it’s great, it’s fantastic — but the cost, I’m assuming, is also fantastic.”
Rodriguez replied that detailed figures for cost comparison had not yet been assessed, pending direction from the council on which option was preferred — but several figures were presented by the City’s principal civil engineer, Kevin Becker.
Becker told council members he hoped the integrated archway and signal would run about $650,000, citing the cost of a typical traffic signal running about $420,000. He also said the Rusch Park arch, which does not have an integrated light signal, cost about $210,000.
By comparison, the cost of the “Welcome to Citrus Heights” sign in the median strip on Greenback Lane near Indian River Drive only ran about $35,000, according to City Management Analyst Regina Cave.
Mayor Jeannie Bruins said a new light signal is planned for the location “no matter what,” so she said cost comparisons would need to factor in the price of a separate stoplight for the median-strip sign option. Accidents from drivers turning on and off Auburn Boulevard in the area were cited by Rodriguez as the reason for a new traffic signal.
Asked by Councilmember Sue Frost if the existing stoplight on Auburn Boulevard near Interstate 80 was too close to consider adding another signal, Rodriguez said the distance, about 600 feet apart, is far enough to add another signal.
Based on feedback received from the council, Rodriguez told The Sentinel that staff will work on getting more detailed cost comparison estimates to present to council members at a later date.
The gateway arch and signal is part of the City’s plan for Phase II of the Auburn Boulevard Complete Streets Revitalization Project — a project authorized in 2005 which envisioned a revitalized and enhanced section of Auburn Boulevard, from Sylvan Corners to Interstate 80.
The project was broken up into two phases, with Phase I being completed in 2014 and Phase II still in its preliminary stages.
Phase 1 focused on the area of Auburn Boulevard from Sylvan Corners to just past Antelope Road, and included undergrounding utility wires, adding bus pull-outs and nearly 10,000 feet of bike lanes and wider sidewalks, planting 230 new street trees, and installing energy-efficient street lights.
According to City staff, Phase II will feature similar improvements, continuing from Grand Oaks Boulevard to the northern city limits. Rodriguez said staff estimate the entire Phase II improvements will cost around $15 million, with the majority of funding “ideally” coming from variety of sources, including federal funds, grants, and SMUD.
The earliest date that Phase II construction work on Auburn Boulevard would begin is 2019, according to Rodriguez.
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