Sentinel staff report–
The Citrus Heights City Council will vote this Thursday on whether to adopt a final concept plan for Old Auburn Road that includes eliminating lanes, widening the roadway in places, and adding contiguous bike lanes and separated sidewalks.
The adoption of the plan is only the first step in the project, which city staff say would cost an estimated $15-25 million to construct, “depending on final design components.” Although changes can still be made to the plan prior to construction, a staff report says adopting the plan at this point will allow the city to pursue grant funding to help pay for the project. Environmental review and additional studies will be required before construction can begin.
A final version of the plan was released on Friday in the City Council’s March 26 agenda packet and the council is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. at City Hall, with the option for members to join via teleconference.
Due to coronavirus concerns, the meeting will be closed to the public, but live-streamed online. Those wishing to submit public comment can do so by emailing: email@example.com, or by completing an online speaker request form posted on the city’s website. The city says each comment will be read aloud during the meeting, for up to five minutes.
The plan for Old Auburn Road began after the City Council accepted a $190,000 grant from Caltrans in 2018 to develop a “complete streets” plan for a 1.8-mile section of the roadway, from Sylvan Corners to just beyond Fair Oaks Boulevard. The council subsequently awarded a contract to Fehr & Peers to develop the plan.
The final concept calls for the corridor to generally feature continuous single lanes of traffic in each direction, with a dedicated center turn lane. The plan also calls for the construction of eight-foot sidewalks along both sides of Old Auburn from Mariposa Avenue to Sunrise Boulevard, with a four-foot planting buffer to separate pedestrians from vehicle and bicycle traffic.
Narrower sections of the roadway would need to be widened to accommodate six to seven-foot-wide bike lanes, along with planting buffers. The changes are intended to reduce the number of collisions and vehicle speeds, improve walking, biking, and travel across Old Auburn Road, and reduce cut-through traffic. Raised vertical curbs would also be installed throughout.
Below is a list of specific changes included in the plan for various portions of the roadway. All descriptions are direct quotes from the plan:
The concept plan would remove one left-turn lane on the westbound approach. The single left-turn lane would be extended to around 300-feet in length. The westbound and eastbound left-turns would operate with lead-lag left-turn phasing instead of split phasing. The channelized right-turns on the southbound, eastbound, and westbound approaches would be signalized and operate with permissive phasing.
The concept plan would remove the right-turn channelization on the eastbound approach, squaring up the right turn pocket and improving sight lines. The changes at this intersection would improve pedestrian and bicycle crossings at the intersection. Old Auburn would be widened to add a two-way left turn lane between Mariposa Avenue and Wickham Drive.
At Tiara Way, the concept plan would install a curb extension on the southeast corner. Additionally, the crosswalk that is currently located on the east leg of the intersection would be moved to its west leg. A refuge island would be constructed in center of the roadway.
- The concept plan would extend the right-turn pocket on the eastbound approach. The westbound approach would be re-striped to one left-turn lane, one through lane, and one right-turn lane removing the merge on the west leg. The channelized right-turns on the eastbound and westbound approaches would be signalized and operate with permissive phasing.
- Currently, the east leg of the intersection has two receiving lanes with a lane drop approximately 340-feet east of the intersection. The project would remove the second receiving lane and lane drop, removing a common conflict location for merging automobiles.
- Coordinated signal timings on Sunrise Boulevard to alleviate some of the congestion experienced in the northbound and southbound directions.
The concept plan would re-stripe the eastbound approach to one left-turn lane and one through lane. The channelized right-turn would be removed from the westbound approach, and the right-turn would operate with permissive and overlap phasing to make it safer for people crossing at the crosswalk.
Fair Oaks/Old Auburn
In 2019, Fair Oaks Boulevard was re-striped on the northbound approach to provide one left-turn and one right-turn lane in an effort to reduce the potential for collisions into the existing planter barriers.
- The westbound approach would be re-striped to include two left-turn lanes and one through lane. The dual left-turn lanes would each have approximately 170-feet of storage, accommodating twelve vehicles, to help minimize the left turn queues blocking the westbound through movement.
- The right-turn channelization on the eastbound approach would be removed, and the right-turn would operate with permissive and overlap phasing. The proposed concept would include a 300-foot right-turn pocket, whereas the sub-alternative would have a right-turn lane connected to the second eastbound lane from Antelope Road.
- A roundabout was considered at this intersection as one of the safety countermeasures. It was determined that the high volume of left turning traffic degraded operations and created unacceptable conditions, so this option was removed from consideration.
Lane reduction options
The most controversial aspect of the plan has been the section of Old Auburn between Fair Oaks Boulevard and Antelope Road.
During a study session last month, the City Council gave general direction for staff to pursue reducing lanes down to one in each direction for the stretch of Old Auburn between Antelope Road and Fair Oaks Boulevard. The city’s traffic consultant said the lane reduction would increase safety but also increase travel times during peak morning commutes by 50%, about 60 seconds.
Related: City ‘leaning’ towards permanent lane reduction on Old Auburn
An alternative scenario, billed as a “partial road diet,” would eliminate one lane only in the westbound direction. In each scenario, a three-foot vertical buffer would be installed in each direction to create a separated bike path in an effort to make bicyclists feel more safe traveling next to vehicles.
A staff report says both options remain in the plan, apparently putting off a final decision on which scenario will be chosen until a future date.
Construction of the project would likely happen in phases due to length of the project area extending more than one mile. The city’s consultant is recommending construction start at the east end of the corridor “where safety enhancements would be greatest.”
To see the full 76-page presentation on the Old Auburn Road plan in the council’s agenda packet, click here. The meeting will be live-streamed online at metro14live.saccounty.net, beginning at 7 p.m. on March 26.