Thursday, December 21, 2006

Easing the Gridlock

Easing the Gridlock
Two Solano Projects Win MTC Backing
By Jennifer Gentile/Staff Writer

Facing stiff competition, Solano County is poised to get a share of nearly $2 billion in state transportation funding, according to a list released Wednesday.
The list includes projects the Metropolitan Transportation Commission staff has recommended to receive a share of funding from Proposition 1B, a voter-approved $20 billion transportation bond. The MTC list was compiled following a call for project proposals in November that yielded 50 requests, according to the commission's Web site.

The bond, includes $4.5 billion to be placed in a Corridor Mobility Improvement Account. Of that amount, $1.8 billion is available to the Bay Area.

Making it through an initial cut were two Solano County projects, including improvements to the Interstate 80, I-680 Inter-change and the widening of State Route 12 at Jameson Canyon. A third project, the relocation of the Cordelia Truck Scales on I-80, has been recommended for another category of Prop 1B funding, for which $2 billion is available statewide.

The MTC - the transportation coordinating, planning and financing agency for the Bay Area - is charged with submitting a final list of project nominations to the California Transportation Commission. That commission will make the final determination about which projects are funded and pare down the list as required, said MTC Commissioner Jim Spering.

As it stands, Spering said, the list contains about $1.9 million worth of improvements.

"I think Solano County is going to do fine," Spering said. "Our projects meet all of the criteria they are looking for." Not only have the projects been recognized as important by the MTC, he said, but also by Caltrans and the Solano Transportation Authority, which helps the chances of making it through the process.

Also optimistic was STA Executive Director Daryl Halls, who said the MTC list is "good news."

"We are pleased our top priorities are being recognized by the MTC," he said.

The requested funding for the truck scales would finance a phase of a project that would relocate them about three-quarters of a mile east of their present location, according to Halls.

"Part of the intent is to have longer (acceleration and deceleration) lanes," Halls said, adding that the present scales "can't keep up with the volume of trucks going through."

The plan for Route 12, between 1-80 in Solano and Route 29 in Napa, is to widen it to four lanes, which Halls said is "a safety issue and a capacity issue."

Halls added that the Prop 1B funds would go toward construction of a phase of that project.

With completion of the Benicia Bridge looming, Spering and Halls stressed the importance of fixing the I-80 and I-680 interchange to the entire region. Halls said the project is in the middle of the environmental review process.

A special MTC meeting is scheduled for Jan. 10, when the final list will be adopted. Find further information at Public comments will be accepted through Jan. 5.

Jennifer Gentile can be reached at

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