Back-Seat Driver

Will this never-ending road project finally finish?

Reader Daniel Feng of El Dorado Hills is among many drivers annoyed by the seemingly never-ending roadwork on Auburn-Folsom Road in south Placer County.

“What are they doing with our tax dollars?” he asks. “Purposely keeping the project going indefinitely?”

There is some news on that front. Placer officials say they have entered the fourth and final phase of the decadelong effort to rebuild and widen that major commute route connecting Placer and Sacramento counties.

The expected finish date for the $20 million project, between Douglas Road and the city of Folsom, is sometime in August, said Placer County Public Works Director Ken Grehm.

“It’s been a traffic mess,” Grehm acknowledged. “The good news is we are almost done, and it is going to be a whole lot better once we are open in August.”

The Placer County portion of the road widening began in 2006. The work, much of it widening the road to four lanes, has been start-and-stop over the years, partly because various permits limited environmentally sensitive work to certain months.

The most recent delay came last year when officials had to go through extended legal proceedings to acquire portions of properties to complete some of the widening, Grehm said.

Auburn-Folsom Road is busy, carrying 40,000 vehicles a day. Many of the drivers who use it are commuters taking Douglas Boulevard from Interstate 80 back and forth to areas around Folsom, Rancho Cordova, and elsewhere in Sacramento and El Dorado counties.

Grehm said there are no plans to extend the project to the more rural portions of Auburn-Folsom Road north of Douglas Boulevard.

Senior moment

Worried about potential heat-related issues for pedestrians, California Highway Patrol officials are urging golf fans to park at Cal Expo and take a shuttle bus to the Del Paso Country Club for this weekend’s U.S. Senior Open championships.

Marconi Avenue is closed for about a half-mile on either side of the country club entrance, Lacy Lane on the west and Watt Avenue on the east. CHP spokesman Chad Hertzell said officers are seeing fans, including many older people, parking on neighborhood streets a mile away, and walking to the entrance.

“We don’t want them to do that, for their safety,” Hertzel said. “Not in this extreme heat, there is no reason for people to walk a mile.”

The shuttle parking at Cal Expo is free, and security guards are on duty. The shuttles take fans to the country club entrance. “We’re trying to get this message out every day through Sunday.”

Several readers have pointed out another safety issue involving pedestrians on Marconi. Sections of that street, like others in the suburban county, don’t even have sidewalks. The county has begun making an effort in the last few years to build sidewalks on some of those streets, focusing on connecting residential areas to groupings of stores.