Friday, March 17, 2006

Paving the Way

Paving the Way
Board Gives $2 Million for I-80 Repairs
By Tom Hall/Staff Writer

Drivers going through Solano on Interstate 80 frequently encounter uneven pavement, as seen westbound at Davis Street in Vacaville. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)

Local motorists got a bureaucratic victory Thursday as a state transportation board voted to immediately allot $2 million for emergency repairs to Interstate 80 through Solano County.

The California Transportation Commission voted during its Sacramento meeting Thursday afternoon to approve a request for $2 million to patch dangerous sections of I-80 between Meridian Road in Vacaville and the west side of Fairfield.

Daryl Halls, the executive director of the Solano Transportation Authority, said work could start soon.

"(Caltrans' Bay Area district) now has the resources to address some emergency patching," Halls said via telephone Thursday evening.

Halls said STA staff will talk to local Caltrans officials early next week about implementation of the funding. Since the funds were allocated by the state commission, they can be used fairly quickly.

"Having an allocation is almost like money in the bank," Halls said.

Assemblywoman Lois Wolk lobbied the CTC for Thursday's emergency allocation, and Vacaville Chamber of Commerce President Gary Tatum attended the vote. Halls said the commission is becoming increasingly aware of the dangerous state of I-80 through Solano.

Local officials are hoping for a larger earmark next month, when Solano's section of I-80 will be up for $41 million through the four-year State Highway Operations and Protection Program (SHOP).

Halls said that funding would be used to fix core maintenance issues along the corridor. The SHOP works in a way in which individual local Caltrans districts essentially compete for portions of the funding pot. District 4, which consists of the nine Bay Area counties, is asking for $41 million for Solano County's I-80 corridor as a part of its overall request.

That prospective funding may not come until 2009, though. Halls said he is confident the commission will approve the $41 million at its April meeting, though the timing is somewhat cloudier.

"The department recommended the $41 million, so there's no reason it shouldn't approve it," he said. "The timing of when it will be released is the question."

Caltrans has endorsed the local I-80 funding through the SHOP, though it wants it to be allocated in the later stages of the four-year program (based on its priority list), Halls said. Local officials will push for an earlier - possibly even 2007 - allocation.

"The encouraging thing is that we have the $2 million now," he said.

Tom Hall can be reached at

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