Placer County officials celebrated the completion of a short roadway Monday that will go a long way to improving access at the DeWitt Center in North Auburn.
The half-mile road project also is noteworthy because it features what is believed to be the first roundabout in the Auburn area.
The new stretch of roadway extends Willow Creek Drive from Highway 49 westward to the DeWitt Center. The roundabout is located where Willow Creek meets 1st Street and F Avenue.
Many county departments have offices at the DeWitt Center, which is known formally as the Placer County Government Center.
“This has been a long-awaited project,” said Jim Holmes, the 3rd District representative on the Board of Supervisors. “This will provide another entrance into the Placer County Government Center.”
During the ceremony, he noted that the Willow Creek extension will help reduce congestion where Highway 49 intersects Atwood and Bell roads. The new roadway provides a third entrance road to the DeWitt Center. Until now, the public and county employees had to use either Atwood or Bell.
Supervisor Holmes and Public Works Director Ken Grehm also noted the new roadway will help spur economic development along the Highway 49 corridor.
Home Depot plans to build a store on Highway 49 north of Willow Creek Drive. County officials noted Home Depot will be required to make additional traffic-circulation improvements in the area to accommodate traffic generated by its store.
Roundabouts are circular intersections where traffic flows around center islands. They are becoming increasingly popular in the United States because they are safe, move traffic efficiently and are less costly than installing traffic signals.
During the ceremony, Grehm said he expects to see more and more roundabouts in the region, noting that are they are safer than intersections with traffic signals because motorists have to slow down considerably to move around the center islands.
Total construction costs for the Willow Creek extension were approximately $2.2 million. The project was financed with state transportation improvement funds and a small match from local traffic-mitigation fees.