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City celebrates Nelson Lane widening at May 15 groundbreaking ceremony

By: Carol Percy, Reporter
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With construction workers watching on May 15, Lincoln City Council members and staff stood shoulder-to-shoulder with a congressman, a county supervisor and transportation officials to wield golden shovels for the ceremonial groundbreaking on Nelson Lane.

After three years of planning, the Nelson Lane Bridge Replacement and Roadway Widening Project is officially underway. It is expected to be finished a year from now.

The $8.8 million project will include construction of two northbound and two southbound lanes to accommodate increased traffic to and from the Lincoln Regional Airport, as well as future development in that area of Lincoln, according to Jill Thompson, Lincoln’s public information officer.

On hand for the May 15 groundbreaking were Lincoln City Council members, Congressman Tom McClintock, Placer County Board Supervisor Robert Weygandt, Placer County Transportation Planning Agency executive director Celia McAdam, Caltrans District 3 Planning and Local Assistance Office representative Stella Liao and Buzz Oates Investments’ chief investment officer.

Lincoln City Manager Jim Estep said the project is key to Lincoln’s economic growth.

“It’s a vital link to the airport and industrial area. Basically, this was a one-lane bridge, and with the huge increase in traffic with the bypass opening,” Estep said, “it became a safety issue. Now, we’ll be able to get commerce traffic in and out of here.”

Lincoln Mayor Gabriel Hydrick said in a May 15 city press release that average daily traffic on Nelson Lane has increased from 1,200 to 12,000 vehicles since the State Route 65 Bypass opened in October 2012.

With the completion of the Nelson Lane improvements, commercial vehicle traffic will have direct freeway access to the Lincoln Regional Airport and the surrounding business park for the first time, Councilman Paul Joiner said.

The economic development opportunities for new businesses and new jobs created by this project “are very exciting for both Lincoln and the entire South Placer region,” Joiner said.

“For the residents, the widening of Nelson Lane to four lanes plus two new bridges will provide increased safety on what was once a very narrow country roadway and bridge,” Joiner said.

Estep had high praise for Ray Leftwich, Lincoln’s construction manager for Nelson Lane Bridge Replacement and Roadway Widening Project.

“Ray was really the key to getting this project started and completed on time,” Estep said. “He ran into a lot of roadblocks and forged ahead.”

Leftwich said the project involved one and one-half miles of roadway and two bridges. As one of many challenges, the city had to obtain permission for right-of-way and easements from eight area property owners of small rural ranches and farms, one of whom had been dead since 1931, according to Leftwich. The city “had to go through a court condemnation process” for that property, Leftwich said.

The city’s “biggest challenge for the project was getting everything done in time to comply with the time constraints for Proposition 1B state funds which amounted to $600,000,” Leftwich said.

As for current traffic conditions, the roads will be passable for traffic at all times during construction, Leftwich said.

The project is scheduled for partial completion with two lanes open to traffic by this Dec. 31, Leftwich said, and full completion is scheduled for June 30, 2015.