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Highway 49 sidewalks a go after state frees frozen $1 million

Placer County project for North Auburn could start in summer 2014
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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A project to add a sidewalk to a stretch of North Auburn’s Highway 49 is back on track.

For the past two years, the state Department of Finance had frozen about $11 million in bond proceeds as it wrapped up the dissolution of the former Placer County Redevelopment Agency.

With word from the Finance Department that the funding can now be used, Placer County is moving forward on the delayed Highway 49 improvement project.

Public Works Director Ken Grehm said Tuesday that the work to construct a sidewalk on the highway between New Airport Road and Education Street is targeted to start in summer 2014.

The bond proceeds will also provide about $10 million for the Kings Beach commercial core improvement project on a 1.1 mile section of Highway 28 through Kings Beach.

The state had held back on approving the use of the funds until the county showed that no further money was owed to the state by the defunct redevelopment agency.

“The Department of Finance did finally bless our bond fund proceeds,” said 5th District Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. “We’ll be getting shy of $10 million from the dissolution of the redevelopment agency and that’s really good news for the commercial core improvement project.”

The bonds were sold in 2006 and the county has been making payments on them. The finance department conducted three separate audits of the former redevelopment agency’s financial dealings before issuing a “finding of completion” that shows money owed to the state has been repaid.

Grehm said environmental clearances have already been completed on the North Auburn project. But because of the delay, some agreements for land along the sidewalk route have lapsed and will need to be updated.

The new sidewalk will be built on the east side of the freeway only and will not have an impact on current traffic lanes, Grehm said.

“The project is off the roadway,” he said. “Plans are to put in a pedestrian path and landscaping around it so it’s not quite as stark on east side as it is now.”

The work will include federally required wheelchair accessible ramps.

“We’re trying to provide a safe place for people to walk along Highway 49,” Grehm said.