Skip to main content

Does "unincorporated" = "rural"?

There is a segment of the Capital Cities Freeway (AKA "Business 80") that parallels a long stretch of Auburn Blvd. There is nothing in the narrow space between the freeway and Auburn Blvd. but a chain link fence. Thre are no guard rails, no K-barriers, no sound walls...nothing. The chain link fence has been damaged by freeway vehicles in several places. And last Tuesday, at around 7a.m. it was damaged again. According to the CHP, a vehicle going eastbound on the freeway left the roadway, went through the fence and crashed into a car on Auburn Blvd., killing the driver.

crash site with damaged fence
The crash site 3 days after the accident. Maita Subaru has its own on-ramp to the freeway.

The cause of the accident hasn't been reported yet. One thing for sure, though, the fence wasn't a useful safety device. Why does that stretch of freeway not have a guard rail, K-barriers or some kind of masonry wall? Could it be because there is no urgency assigned to keeping errant vehicles from running off the freeway in an unincorporated area? After all, unincorporated areas are rural places, you know, with cows. What's the worst case when a car runs through a chain link fence and strikes a cow? Caltrans pays the rancher for the cost of the cow and repairs the fence. How often does that happen? Hardly ever.  So, if Arden Arcade is unincorporated, it must be rural, populated mostly by cows, right? Why bother with anything other than a chain link fence along the freeway? You need one of those fences to keep the cows (and maybe wild cowboy kids) from running out onto the freeway, but that's about it. Our community is fully developed, densely populated and highly urbanized.  Our residents are not cows. It has been that way for a while. Cars have been driving back and forth on Auburn Blvd. since it was US40, particularly after WWII. Now that an Auburn Blvd. driver's life has been sacrificed to save Caltrans money by only using a chain link fence as a freeway barrier, maybe the County should demand a guard rail, K-barriers, or a wall. And what if they did that? CalTrans would spit back that 1) they have higher priorities elsewhere on freeways in Sacramento County and 2) it is up to SACOG (the local transportation money laundry) to cough up the money for the safety improvements. Yet, as Supervisor Desmond has explained to the public, SACOG doesn't provide Sacramento County with a fair share of funds and has different priorities for use of transportation funds than the County.

If Arden Arcade was a city it would have a direct voice on SACOG and would enjoy better listening behavior from CalTrans. It's not a city, though, so the only course of action is to make noise:  to beg for attention, to demand action from the Board of Supervisors, to contact state agencies and their designated funding entities, to bring the problem to the attention of the people who represent us in the Legislature. No driver should have to get up his/her life to get the Auburn Blvd. fence upgraded.


Join our mailing list