Two new monument signs in the works for Auburn

By: Jenna Nielsen, Journal Staff Writer
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Motorists driving along Interstate 80 and through Auburn could soon see a few more monument signs directing them through town. The new city-authorized signs will be similar in concept to the recently constructed gateway monument above the eastbound Ophir onramp. Acting as the Auburn Urban Development Authority, City Council members on Monday unanimously approved an agreement to develop construction documents for a new monument sign at the end of Reamer Court, overlooking Interstate 80 and one at the Hersal Young Park off Lincoln Way and Sacramento Street in Old Town. The signs would be roughly 23 feet and 14 feet high respectively. “We are trying to develop a sense of place around Auburn,” said Michael Kent Murphy, the local architect who designed the conceptual renderings. “We don’t want to make every monument the same. We are trying to make it interesting but cohesive. Everything won’t be the same but it will all come together in the end.” Murphy also designed the Auburn sign off of Maple Street in Old Town. The Downtown and Old Town signs would be constructed with a combination of brick, rock and masonry. Last year, authority members approved a 42-foot-high Auburn gateway sign located on the south side of Interstate 80 above the eastbound Ophir onramp. The sign was completed late last year. The sign, made of wood and corrugated metal, replicates a mining structure and prompts visitors to visit Historic Old Town Auburn at the next exit. The tab for constructing the Downtown sign could reach $70,000, according to staff estimates. Construction costs for the sign in Old Town have not been estimated. The money would come out of the authority’s project fund, which currently has a balance of $1.4 million. Mayor Keith Nesbitt said the monument signs will tie into the city’s Streetscape plan. The Streetscape plan is a corridor design that would connect Old Town and Downtown Auburn with landscaping, lighting and widened sidewalks. “The design elements are consistent with the design elements of the Streetscape plan,” Nesbitt said. “On the one hand we want to enhance the experience in Auburn, increase the walkability and get people on foot, but the other aspect is to get them off the freeway and get them into town.” Following the completion of the Streetscape project, city officials hope to clearly define Auburn. “The goal a few years down the road is that when you are in the city of Auburn, you will know you are in the city of Auburn,” Nesbitt said. Auburn resident Angie Tahti, who is also the executive director of PlacerArts, said she likes how the brick on the tower ties into the brick off Interstate 80’s Elm overpass after being shown the renderings Tuesday afternoon. “It is thematic to the brick off 80,” Tahti said. “It ties together.” But she said she didn’t understand why different monument signs would be constructed for different districts. “I’d like to see something in Downtown marketing Old Town and something in Old Town marketing Downtown,” she said. “I think the two districts need to work together so we become one seamless community.” Incline Village resident Rick Dyess, who said he spends half his time in Auburn for business, said he thought the price tags for the sign seemed a little high. “You think you could get more for that than two towers telling you what freeway signs already tell you,” he said. The Journal’s Jenna Nielsen can be reached at or comment on this story at