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Palm Avenue sidewalk moving forward

Councilman: design presentation like ‘beating a dead horse’
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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The city of Auburn plans to give E.V. Cain students a safe route to school through a $785,000 project, 90 percent of which will be funded by grants. In a unanimous vote Monday night the Auburn City Council approved a design alternative for the Palm Avenue Sidewalk and Bicycle Lane Project. The council also authorized Bernie Schroeder, director of the Auburn Public Works Department, to begin an amendment to the consultant agreement with Coastland Civil Engineering, Inc. for phase two of the engineering design services for the project. These services can cost no more than $50,081. City staff outlined three options for the project. The council approved Option 1, which includes sidewalk on the south side of Palm Avenue. According to city documents, this option would require minimal fill and retaining walls on the south side of the street due to hillside excavation on the north side. According to city documents, four utility poles would have to be moved, but this option would not require a crosswalk across the street. This option is expected to cause extensive grading on the north side of Palm Avenue, and is planned to cost around $785,000. The other two options were scheduled to cost $1,041,500 and $760,250. The project is being funded through a Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Grant and a national Safe Routes to School Grant. The grants are planned to supply $884,376, and the city is required to provide around 10 percent matching funds of $85,000, Schroeder said. At Monday’s meeting Councilman Keith Nesbitt said he wasn’t happy with the design presentation for the project, because staff did not include the option of a separated sidewalk. “I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, because I’m seeing another major artery in Auburn without a separated sidewalk,” Nesbitt said Monday. According to Schroeder, a separated sidewalk normally includes a four-foot-wide strip of landscaping in between the sidewalk and the road, to make for a safer walkway. Schroeder said Wednesday Nesbitt and Councilman Kevin Hanley have asked staff to include separated sidewalks in projects whenever feasible. “One of the big priorities of the City Council, particularly Kevin Hanley and Keith Nesbitt was a few years back they issued a walkable communities (resolution),” Schroeder said. Schroeder said, as part of its final design presentation of the project to the council, city staff will include a separated sidewalk and guardrail. “(Nesbitt) expressed a desire for us to look at that more extensively than we had looked at it,” Schroeder said. Schroeder said it’s possible a separated sidewalk could involve obtaining additional right of way for the project, a greater slope impact, and a greater cost. “The potential exists to increase the project (cost) 40 percent, but we just don’t know,” she said. Schroeder said she expects the final design for the project to come back to the council for approval in about a month. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2012, Schroeder said. In other business, the City Council: · Approved a second reading of an ordinance rezoning Plan Area 1 and the Study Areas 1-4 of the Baltimore Ravine development project. The Council approved a development agreement between the city of Auburn and Baltimore Ravine Investors, LLC. Hanley voted against the items. · Acting as the Auburn Urban Development Authority, approved $236,221 in redevelopment funds for PG&E, AT&T and Wave Broadband underground infrastructure in the area of Streetscape Phase 2. The funds are pending a construction contract for the project. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com