Monday, November 13, 2006

'Critical Link' to Relieve Congestion

'Critical Link' to Relieve Congestion -- $89 Million, Five-Mile Project Up for Discussion
By Barry Eberling

East bound traffic moves along on I-80 near Abernathy Road. A north connector has been proposed linking Jameson Canyon and Abernathy on the north side of the highway.(Mike McCoy/Daily Republic)

FAIRFIELD - People on Dec. 14 can comment on the latest plans and environmental study for a proposed $89 million, 5-mile North Connector road linking Green Valley with central Fairfield.

They can attend an open house and public hearing from 6 to 8 p.m. at Nelda Mundy Elementary School, 580 Vintage Valley Drive.

Fairfield Mayor Harry Price urged residents to come and offer opinions before road plans are made final. He also stressed the importance of the proposed road.

"It's a critical link," Price said.

The North Connector is to extend from Abernathy Road in Suisun Valley westward alongside Interstate 80, incorporate Business Center Drive in Green Valley and end at Highway 12 and Red Top Road in Jameson Canyon. Construction for an initial phase could begin in 2007, a project study said.

This new road is to carry local traffic that now travels on congested Interstate 80. It is also to take traffic off Rockville Road and other

rural routes used by motorists seeking alternatives to the jammed freeway during rush hour.

A environmental study released Thursday describes some challenges to building the road. For example, construction could disturb wetlands and habitat for the California red-legged frog.

The study also suggests possible solutions, such as constructing ponds and replacement wetlands.

Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls sees no insurmountable obstacles described in the study.

"It's not as environmentally challenging as other projects we have, such as the Jepson Parkway," Halls said.

Yet the North Connector has caused some concern among Green Valley area residents. For example, residents have said linking the new road with Highway 12 could bring regional traffic through their neighborhoods.

Four buildings must be demolished to make way for the North Connector, including a concrete installation company, warehouse and barn on Russell Road, the study said. One business must relocate. No homes will be affected, the study said.

The project requires buying 26 acres of prime farmland. The new road could make some of these properties too small to be farmed, the study said. The STA and county could solve this problem by buying and combining these properties, it said.

Also, the STA should be required to preserve farmland of equal quality at another location, to compensate for the prime farmland that is lost, the study said.

A traffic signal would be installed where the North Connector would meet Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon, at Red Top Road. If not properly designed, the new intersection could cause substantial traffic delays on the highway, the study said. It describes how the intersection should look.

The ultimate solution to the new intersection traffic would be the proposed widening of Highway 12 to four lanes. This project includes building an interchange at Red Top Road, the study said.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or

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