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Plans for a revitalized Auburn Boulevard from Rusch Park to the Roseville border are projected to come at a cost of around $22 million, leaving some wondering where the money will come from and also whether it would be better spent addressing homelessness or other local issues.
Asked about funding sources for the second phase of the Auburn Boulevard Complete Streets Revitalization Project, Regina Cave, operations manager for the City of Citrus Heights, told The Sentinel that funds will come from a variety of sources and grants — some of which have not yet been secured.
“It is expected that a majority of the project will be funded by grant funds,” said Cave. “Because it’s such a large project, we’re really having to piecemeal multiple grants to make this happen.”
She said the city is hoping that “a good 75 percent” of the money needed for the project will be able to be funded through grants, rather than from the city’s $38.5 million general fund budget.
So far, the biggest source of funding the city has secured is around $5.5 million from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, which provides transportation funding and planning for the six-county Sacramento region. In order to secure the funding from SACOG, the city put up around $4 million in matching funds from its recently opened $12 million line of credit.
Another $1.2 to $1.5 million is expected to come from the Sacramento Municipal Utility District to help with undergrounding of utilities along the boulevard. Cave said SMUD helped with about $900,000 during the first phase of Auburn Boulevard improvements, which included undergrounding of utilities from Sylvan Corners to Rusch Park. The total cost of undergrounding in the second phase is expected to carry a price tag of around $3 million.
Cave said additional funding sources are still being sought, with most grants requiring matching local funds of 10-12 percent.
“We do not have a specific breakdown at this time of all the contributing funds, as that will depend on the types of funding we receive through the grant fund programs,” Cave said, although noting that some funding will come from local city funds, which can only be used for specific categories of projects.
She said a portion of the city’s storm water utility funds will go towards drainage improvements on the boulevard, transit impact funds will help with transit upgrades and improvements, and roadway impact funds will help with roadway improvements.
Would $22 million be better spent elsewhere?
Responding to comments on social media from residents who question the city’s use of funds on the Auburn Boulevard project, Cave said the grant funds being used are project specific and “cannot be spent elsewhere or for other purposes.”
When it comes to repaving roads, Cave said grants are no longer available to cover “just resurfacing,” so cities have to integrate other elements like bike lanes and public transit improvements in order for local projects to qualify for grant funding.
Referencing the city’s plans for a gateway arch with an integrated traffic signal on Auburn Boulevard near the Roseville-Citrus Heights border, Cave said the project has been designed in a way to leverage grant funds.
“The whole point of incorporating an arch/monument into the signals is so that we can include it in the grant funds and therefore have a majority of it paid for by the grant – not the city’s local funds,” she said.
“Phase II” of the Auburn Boulevard Complete Streets Revitalization Project project is still in its design stage, with right of way negotiations still underway for about five parcels. Design work is expected to be completed by 2021, with construction being completed in 2022.
When complete, Auburn Boulevard from Rusch Park to the Roseville border will have a similar look as the first phase of improvements, which began at Sylvan Corners and continued to just beyond Antelope Road. Phase I included undergrounding utility wires, adding new streetlights and medians, planting over 200 street trees, and installing nearly 10,000 feet of bike lanes and sidewalks.
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