Friday, February 16, 2007

Solano Waiting to See if Highway Projects on List

Solano Waiting to See if Highway Projects on List
By Barry Eberling

FAIRFIELD - Today could be a milestone for frustrated commuters wondering when somebody is going to do something about the congested Cordelia interchange and Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon.

California Transportation Commission staff is expected to release a list of recommended transportation bond money recipients. The commission is to hold a hearing on Tuesday and award the money Feb. 28.

Making that staff list would just about - but not quite - clinch the county's chances to get a key interchange phase built and a Highway 12 widening that otherwise seems financially out of reach.

"Once you're on the list, they've made a statement, it's out there," Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls said Wednesday.

In contrast, being left off the list would just about dash the county's hopes.

"It's a long shot," Halls said.

The chance to get this windfall of money came up suddenly. California voters in November 2006 passed a $20 billion transportation bond. The CTC then announced that within a matter of months it would hand out up to $4.5 billion for projects to relieve congestion.

Solano County wants the connecting ramps renovated at its biggest freeway bottleneck, the interstates 680 and 80 and Highway 12 interchange. The bond money could provide $150 million needed to start construction by 2012, a deadline bond money recipients must meet. Other money for the $323 million project is already available.

Fixing the entire interchange complex could cost more than $1 billion, which is one reason why the STA has broken the project down into phases.

Both Napa and Solano counties are seeking $102 million to widen Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon to four lanes. The existing, two-lane road is a major link between the two counties and often backs up during rush hour. The entire project would cost $140 million, with the rest of the money already available.

Nearby counties are also seeking money for projects that could affect the commute from Solano County to the Bay Area. For example, Contra Costa and Alameda counties want $175 million for a $420 million project to add a new Caldecott tunnel bore.

But there is competition for that $4.5 billion the commission can dole out. Communities around the state have submitted $11.2 billion in requests.

On Tuesday, the CTC will hold a hearing during which each region can make a final pitch for their projects. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which represents the Bay Area, will have 20 minutes.

If the Solano County projects are on the CTC staff recommendation list, making the pitch for the interchange and Highway 12 will be much easier.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646 Ext. 232 or at

The Competition

The California Transportation Commission has $11.2 billion in requests for up to $4.5 billion it will hand out. Among the projects statewide:

- Widen a stretch of Interstate 5 to six lanes in Shasta County.
- Add extra lanes and carpool lanes on a stretch of Interstate 80 in Placer County.
- Add lanes on Highway 50 in Sacramento County.
- Build a Yolo Bypass bicycling bridge in Sacramento County.
- Add carpool lanes to a stretch of I-80 near the Sacramento River.
- Work on connector between Highway 113 and I-5 in Yolo County.
- Convert stretch of Highway 99 to six-lane freeway in Tulare County.
- Build the Gene Autrey Way transit interchange on I-5 in Orange County.
- Add carpool lanes to various stretches of I-5 in Los Angeles County.
- Build two new interchanges on Interstate 15 in Victorville, San Bernardino County.
- Convert stretch of Highway 46 to four-lane expressway in San Luis Obispo County.
- Convert stretch of Highway 1 to a two-lane expressway in Monterey County.
- Create the Olancha and Cartago Expressway on Highway 395 in Inyo County.
- Create the Highway 101 Willits Bypass in Mendocino County.
- Renovate ramps at Cordelia interchange in Solano County.
- Widen highway 12 in Jameson Canyon in Solano and Napa counties.
- Replace Doyle Drive in San Francisco.

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