North Auburn businesses unhappy about Highway 49 wire undergrounding work

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Work to underground overhead lines along Highway 49 has some North Auburn business owners hurting. And a Placer County official said that the work should continue through June. An AT&T contractor has put in a center barrier to prevent left-hand turns along a stretch of five-lane Highway 49 from Nevada Street to Luther Road. Trenching work is planned along the highway’s west shoulder, which is now behind a concrete barricade. The road itself is down to four lanes now and left-hand turns out of business access points onto the highway are also prohibited. That’s had a big impact on businesses like Pappy’s Café in the Victorian Village shopping plaza. Owner George Apostolos said business is down 75 percent since the barriers were put in place last week. For customers traveling north, the only access is a drive up Highway 49 to Luther Road and then a U-turn back. It’s a similar scenario for customers leaving the restaurant. With no left turns allowed, they have to drive south to Nevada Street and do a U-turn to travel north. Adding to Apostolos’ woes, the main driveway into his plaza has been closed because of the undergrounding work. “My customers are going somewhere else,” Apostolos said. “This may force me to close.” With Mother’s Day approaching May 9, Petals & Sweets owner Dennise Groves said she’s concerned about customers not being able to gain easy access to her Victorian Village shop. Her business is down 20 percent over the past week, she said. “Mother’s Day gets us through the summer,” Groves said. An AT&T contractor is performing the work. Bob Costa, Placer County public works manager, said the trenching work – which also includes a Pacific Gas & Electric project to install a new gas line – should have traffic controls through June. The remainder of the project, which would stretch into the fall, would have less impact on traffic and businesses, he said. Robert Miller, a public information officer with the county, said that plans now are to install changeable message signs to help motorists know where they can gain access to businesses.