The Highway 49 Gap Closure Project will close the gaps between sidewalks in the approximately 4.4-mile Highway 49 corridor between Interstate 80 and Dry Creek Road, creating a continuous sidewalk on at least one side of the highway.
This project is just one of several on-going efforts to improve Highway 49 by constructing sidewalks, bike lanes, and operational improvements.
In spring of 2017, Caltrans was scheduled to repair sections of Highway 49 within the greater Auburn area. During the planning process, Caltrans acquired additional funding to add bike lanes in both directions and sidewalks in certain segments, creating what’s known today as the “Highway 49 Rehabilitation Project.” While the additional money expanded the scope of improvements to Highway 49, sidewalk gaps would still remain in the corridor, even after the Highway 49 Rehabilitation . In 2018, Placer County constructed approximately one-half mile of sidewalks on Highway 49 in front of the Bel Air Shopping Center between New Airport Road and just north of Willow Creek Drive.
At the request of the City of Auburn and Placer County, PCTPA agreed to lead a multi-agency effort to determine where and how to fill in the remaining sidewalk gaps. The Highway 49 Sidewalk Gap Closure project will create a “shelf ready” project by completing the required environmental and design work.
This project was originally incorporated into the Placer County Measure M transportation sales tax measure that failed back in November 2016. The Measure M sales tax measure would have constructed sidewalks, incorporated traffic signal synchronization, landscaping, and operational improvements throughout the corridor. Without the passage of Measure M, PCTPA looked to other funding opportunities such as the extremely competitive Statewide Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant to deliver a scaled down version of the original project.
At the California Transportation Commission’s (CTC) January 26, 2019 meeting, the CTC approved a $14.4 million dollar grant to construct approximately 2.8 miles of sidewalk. The grant also included funding to develop and implement a Safe Routes to School program at six area school in partnership with the Placer County Department of Public Health. The schools in the corridor include Rock Creek Elementary, Auburn Elementary, E.V. Cain Middle School, Maidu High Independent Study, Confluence High School and Placer High School.
What does this mean for the Auburn area? Pedestrians will no longer have to walk in dirt (or mud in the winter) or on the busy shoulder of Highway 49. Construction is expected to start in late 2021 and be completed in 2022.
The objective of the Highway 49 Gap Closure Project is to improve travel conditions for bicyclists and pedestrians along Highway 49. Currently, many residents walk and bike along the corridor (either on the road or dirt paths) as it is their only means of transportation to reach area schools, shopping, jobs, and/or bus stops.
In the last 11 years, there have been a total of 43 collisions between vehicles and bicyclists or pedestrians. There were 13 bicyclist collisions, and there were 30 pedestrian collisions with 23 injuries and seven (7) fatalities. A safe route to community destinations is critical for the overall quality of life for local residents and business in the corridor.
PCTPA and the consultant team working with the City of Auburn, Placer County, and Caltrans prepared the required Project Report and associated environmental document. The project report presents the purpose and need statement for the project, illustrates the preliminary sidewalk design, and other pertinent requirements required for a project being constructed within the state right-of-way. The environmental document prepared was a categorical exemption under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and a categorical exclusion under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
The Project Report and Environmental Documents were approved by Caltrans on December 6, 2019. Copies of the documents can be downloaded below.
The Highway 49 Gap Closure Project includes a community engagement program to inform and engage the community throughout the process. The community engagement program included presentations to stakeholders and the public. PCTPA staff presented a project overview to the following stakeholders:
- North Auburn MAC on January 8, 2019 [PDF of presentation]
- Auburn Meddlers Group on January 22, 2019 [PDF of presentation]
- Project Open House at Rock Creek Elementary School on February 7, 2019
- Highway 49 Business Association on February 19, 2019 [PDF of presentation]
- Placer Partnership for Public Health Coalition on February 21, 2019 [PDF of presentation]
- Rock Creek Mobile Home Park on March 12, 2019 [PDF of presentation]
A community open house was hosted on February 7, 2019.
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Community Open House
PCTPA hosted a community open house on February 7, 2019 at Rock Creek Elementary School in Auburn. This was a coordinated effort between Placer County, the City of Auburn, Caltrans, and the Placer County Transportation Planning Agency (PCTPA) to receive input on the proposed sidewalk layout and design. The following documents and exhibits were shared at project open house.
Open House Summary [PDF]
Highway 49 Sidewalk Gap Closure Project Fact Sheet [PDF]
Exhibit 1 – I-80 to Persimmon Terrace Preliminary Design [PDF]
Exhibit 2 – Persimmon Terrace to Nevada Street Preliminary Design [PDF]
Exhibit 3 – Nevada Street to Luther Road Preliminary Design [PDF]
Exhibit 4 – Luther Road to Masters Court Preliminary Design [PDF]
Exhibit 5 – Masters Court to Quartz Drive Preliminary Design [PDF]
Exhibit 6 – Quartz Drive to Dry Creek Road Preliminary Design [PDF]
Safe Routes to School [PDF]
Aaron Hoyt, Senior Planner