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Citrus Heights Costco once had plans to add more gas pumps. What happened?


File photo. Long lines are a regular site outside the Costco gas station in Citrus Heights. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
Long lines at the Costco gas station on Auburn Boulevard have prompted a growing number of complaints in recent months, as higher gas prices drive consumers to lower-priced pumps.

But long lines at the Citrus Heights location at 7000 Auburn Blvd. aren’t a new phenomena, and city documents show Costco had submitted plans five years ago to reduce the lines by adding more pumps. Those plans were later withdrawn, however.

A memorandum dated Dec. 14, 2017, describes an expansion that would “primarily enable Costco to improve the service and reduce wait times for their existing members.”

The expansion was not anticipated to cause a subsequent increase in traffic, according to the memo, which was authored by the transportation consultant group Kittelson & Associates. The total amount of traffic generated by the club store’s gas station is related to the membership base.

Comparisons with similar Costco locations showed a potential 50 percent reduction in vehicle queuing, the document shows.

A document titled “Application Narrative” filed with the city dated Dec. 15, 2017, describes a large canopy expansion and the addition of six fueling positions. The expansion would have provided 18 fueling stations in total, up from 12.

“The intent of the expansion is to improve on-site circulation as an additional service for the established membership utilizing the facility,” the document reads. “Based on data from other expanded facilities, the project is not anticipated to generate a significant number of new trips to the fueling facility and will provide a more efficient purchasing experience for the members already utilizing the facility by reducing wait times. The fueling facility will continue to operate with the same hours of operation and staffing levels.”

While the plans remained on the city’s online project map for several years as a pending project under review, the project later disappeared from the map.

In an email to The Sentinel this month, the city’s economic development manager, Meghan Huber, said the plans were withdrawn, but did not provide a reason.

“The application was withdrawn by the applicant and the plans were never approved. Staff has no indication whether or not Costco plans expansion at this time,” Huber said.

A corporate communications representative for Costco Wholesale Corporation responded to an email inquiry from The Sentinel on July 27, but said only that: “Management has no comment at this time.” Emails sent to two project representatives listed on plans submitted to the city were returned as undeliverable.

Records show the plans were submitted approximately two years after Applebee’s opened their location at 6900 Auburn Blvd.

The Sentinel previously reported long lines at the Costco gas station were impacting the casual dining restaurant chain’s location at Stock Ranch. An Applebee’s employee who could not be identified because they were not authorized to speak to the media acknowledged there is a problem with the gas station traffic, but referred any further questions to the restaurant’s corporate office.

A Sentinel staff member observed a Costco employee directing traffic at the gas station on Friday afternoon, with cones in place to aid traffic flow. The entrance to Applebee’s was observed to be blocked at times as the signal light on Auburn Boulevard changed to allow left-turning vehicles into the parking lot.

Several left-turning vehicles were seen blocking the intersection after being unable to complete their turn into the lot, and vehicles turning right from Auburn Boulevard were forced to wait at a green light until traffic moved forward before entering the parking lot.

Development of Stock Ranch Plaza began with construction of the Costco building in 2003 and Walmart in 2005. The property has been approved for up to eight more buildings to be constructed at the site, including restaurant and retail use.

Want to share your thoughts about Costco’s gas station in Citrus Heights? To submit a letter to the editor online, click here.

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