Motorists on Highway 49 through Auburn have noticed lane reductions and lane rerouting due to construction on a stretch of the highway. The work, which consists of trenching to put utilities underground, is expected to take less than two months. The work is on the west side of the highway, from Luther Road to Nevada Street.
Motorists can still access all businesses during construction. However, because left turns are temporarily prohibited on to or off of Hwy. 49, there may be some inconvenience. Access to both sides of the highway can be accomplished by making a U-turn at either the Nevada Street or Luther Road traffic signals.
The project will move unsightly wires that now run between wooden utility poles along the highway and place them underground. The portion of the project that will affect traffic is expected to take less than 60 days and is scheduled to be completed by late June. Upon completion of that phase of the construction, lanes will be realigned to their original courses and the center lane will be opened, allowing left turns on and off the highway. After the trenching is completed, crews will run cable through the underground conduits. That work will not affect traffic on the roadway. The utility poles that now line the highway will be removed. In conjunction with the undergrounding work, Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) will be replacing a natural gas line.
Letters were sent to property owners and business owners were contacted prior to the start of construction. In addition, changeable message signs have been placed adjacent to the highway, informing motorists that all businesses are open and access is available by making a U-turn at the appropriate signalized intersection.
American Telephone and Telegraph is the project manager. Additional agencies involved in the project include: the Placer County Department of Public Works, PG&E and the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).
The undergrounding work is mandated by the California Public Utility Commission through its Rule-20 operating tariff for electric utilities. The Highway 49 Underground Utility District was established by the Placer County Board of Supervisors in the late 1990s. Funding for utility undergrounding projects come from a charge added to all electric utility bills.