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Sentinel staff report–
About 100 people showed up to a community workshop on Tuesday to make their voice heard about a plan to improve a high-traffic section of Old Auburn Road, from Sylvan Corners to just past Fair Oaks Boulevard.
The two-hour workshop, held in Saint Joseph Hall at Holy Family Catholic Church, featured informal questions and answers with city staff and consultants, as well as various visual layouts and details about the 1.8-mile stretch of roadway on Old Auburn Road.
A popular interactive aspect of the workshop was a pair of long aerial maps of Old Auburn Road, where attendees could place sticky notes to point out problems or suggest solutions.
Ideas ranged from recommendations to add center turn lanes, to complaints about the white traffic posts that popped up last year at the intersection of Sunrise Boulevard and Old Auburn Road.
Requests to add continuous sidewalks were a popular suggestion, as were complaints about speeding and requests for more police presence in various spots. An oft-hit wall at the intersection of Old Auburn Road and Fair Oaks Boulevard was also noted as a problem area — although specific suggestions for how to improve it were not noted in sticky notes.
“Make it 2 lanes with bike lanes + sidewalks,” read one note. “How about some roundabouts,” another wrote. New traffic signals were also suggested outside Holy Family Catholic Church, as well as at Bonita Way.
Around 19,000 vehicles travel along Old Auburn Road each day, according to the city’s average daily traffic data for the stretch of road between Sylvan Corners and Mariposa Avenue. That has earned that section of Old Auburn Road a “Level of Service” rating of “F,” which is the worst operating conditions possible on the scale of A-F.
Other portions of Old Auburn Road have better ratings, with the section of roadway near Wachtel Way earning a “C” grade. City traffic data shows a much lower average daily traffic count of 13,850 between Fair Oaks Boulevard and the northern city limits.
The city also provided data showing a total of 78 injury collisions were reported along Old Auburn Road from 2013 to 2017, three of which were fatal. Eight involved a bicycle and six involved a pedestrian.
All three fatal collisions occurred at the intersection of Old Auburn Road and Sunrise Boulevard, which also has been the location of the majority of all injury collisions along Old Auburn Road.
Several questions were also raised on post-it notes asking whether private property along the roadway will be taken as part of the plans. Asked to respond, City Principal Civil Engineer Stu Hodgkins told The Sentinel the project is still in its preliminary planning stages.
“It’s just too early to tell,” said Hodgkins. “Once we have a final concept we’ll start taking a look at more of the details.”
Leslie Blomquist, the city’s senior civil/traffic engineer, told The Sentinel the city and its consultants will be compiling and reviewing all the feedback received during Tuesday’s meeting. She said a second workshop will then likely be held sometime later this summer, where various options for improvements will be presented for feedback.
The final plan for Old Auburn Road is anticipated to be complete by February 2020.
“Once the Complete Streets Plan is complete, we will seek design and construction funds for all or for certain phases of the corridor (depending on the final identified recommendations),” Blomquist said in a followup email on Wednesday. She said a potential construction start date would vary “depending on the grant types, funding availability, potential project phasing, etc.”
Funding has not yet been identified for the project, aside from a $190,000 Caltrans grant that provided the majority of funds for developing the plan. Fehr & Peers was awarded the contract for developing the Old Auburn Road Complete Streets Plan last year.
Additional maps and information can be found on the city’s website.
Want to share your thoughts on how to improve Old Auburn Road? Click here to submit a letter to the editor for publication.
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