Sentinel staff report–
If you’ve driven by the Costco and Walmart on Auburn Boulevard in the past week or so, you’ve likely seen some heavy machinery, construction signs, and somewhat-confusing traffic detours in the parking lot.
So what’s happening?
The work is part of a project that was approved by the city’s planning commission last year to improve traffic flow at the often-crowded Stock Ranch shopping plaza. Plans approved by the commission also gave the green light for the construction of nine new buildings at the site for future restaurants and retail — but that work has not yet begun.
“The work underway right now is all related to the circulation improvements,” said Citrus Heights Community Services Director Rhonda Sherman in response to an email inquiry about the project from The Sentinel on Friday. “It is not related to any building construction.”
A map provided by Sherman shows circulation modifications underway include the addition of a new four-way stop in front of Costco, as well as realignment of the existing four-way stop in front of Walmart. A staff report presented to the planning commission last year stated that work would also include “reducing conflict points along the main aisle,” and extending the left-turn lane at the signalized entrance.
Sherman said she did not have an estimate for how long traffic detours at the site would be in place, but referred questions to Gary Albertson of Project Management Applications, who is in charge of coordinating the project for California C&S Properties, which owns the property. Albertson could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.
At the time the project was approved last year, commissioners acknowledged existing problems with traffic flow in the parking lot and seemed optimistic that the new 4-way stop and other modifications would help improve traffic. Commissioner Leah Cox called the plaza “screwy to drive through” and said it can be dangerous and hard to see in certain areas.
Following approval of the project last September, Citrus Heights Senior Planner Casey Kempenaar told The Sentinel the proposal to modify the traffic loop and allow for more restaurants went “hand in hand,” with improved traffic flow allowing for more high-traffic restaurants to be approved. He said restaurants generally will generate more trips than a typical retail establishment, which presented a barrier to adding more restaurants at the location.
Future tenants for the new buildings have not been publicly released, but approved plans indicate a 2,300-square-feet restaurant along Auburn Boulevard and various other buildings that range from 5,000 to 8,500 square feet. Another large 34,000-square-feet building is also shown on the proposed site plan, located on the eastern side of the existing entry road in front of Walmart.
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