Tom Cosgrove memorialized with freeway sign

Highway 65 bypass legacy of former mayor
By: Steve Archer, Reporter
-A +A

Friends, family and co-workers of Tom Cosgrove gathered Friday in a dusty, unfinished park to pay tribute to the man and the highway bypass he worked so hard to see built.

Cosgrove died Feb. 8 at the age of 67.

Local politicians and transportation planning executives, with the Highway 65 bypass as a backdrop, took a turn at the podium to share stories about Cosgrove and his efforts to move the old highway out of downtown Lincoln. It was the fifth anniversary of the opening of the 11.7 mile stretch of highway between Twelve Bridges Road and Wise Road.

The highway between Lincoln Boulevard and Nelson Lane now bears his name.

Placer County Transportation Planning Agency executive director Celia McAdam called the Highway 65 Bypass the “opus of Tom’s career.”

“You would be hard-pressed to find the naming of a highway as deserving as the Lincoln bypass is for Tom,” McAdam said. “Tom and I came along at about the same time and we spent 15 years working closely together to get the Lincoln Bypass built.”

McAdam described how Cosgrove “joined us in the trenches and the day-to-day grind of meetings” and called him “our secret weapon.” McAdam closed her comments with memories of the day five years ago when traffic was allowed on the bypass.

“It was 5 a.m. on a Sunday and it was important for both of us to be there when the first cars drove over it,” McAdam said. “When we finally got the go sign, we got in our cars and drove side-by-side. We were the first cars on the onramp and Tom slowed to let me go first. He was a class act, gracious, generous and committed to seeing things through.”

McAdam requested the highway dedication, according to Lincoln City Councilman Stan Nader, also a Placer County Transportation Planning Agency board member.

Amarjeet Benipal, the California Department of Transportation (CalTrans) District 3 director, described Cosgrove as “one of the heroes in the transportation arena.”

“Building any transportation project is not easy and the bypass was even more difficult,” Benipal said. “Tom fought every day to get the bypass built and he didn’t just show up for photo ops, he got down in the trenches. Tom was our most valuable partner for the 65 bypass.”

Karen Cosgrove, Cosgrove’s wife, said their family knew how important completion of the bypass was to him and they supported his long hours working on the project.

“Today is a good and happy day,” Karen Cosgrove said. “Tom enjoyed people and all the speakers captured the essence of him as a man.”

Lincoln native Primo Santini, a member of the Placer County Water Agency board of directors and former Lincoln City Councilman, worked alongside Cosgrove on the council from 2000 to 2008.

“The thing that stood out to me, and Tom was a relative newcomer, was he came here and got involved,” Santini said. “He got Lincoln. He understood its past, future and the sense of community that binds us. This was his adopted hometown.”

“On the technical side, Tom oversaw more than a billion dollars in infrastructure put in during that time period,” Santini added. “He served during an exciting time in Lincoln’s history.”

California State Sen. Ted Gaines said Cosgrove strived to make Lincoln “the jewel of Placer County.”

“For all of his good works, this is his pinnacle achievement,” Gaines said. “You need vision and bulldog tenacity to get a big project like this done. He was a workhorse and the driving constant behind this critical piece of infrastructure.”