Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Counties, Caltrans agree to co-manage Highway 12 project

Counties, Caltrans agree to co-manage Highway 12 project
By DAN JUDGE/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald
Article Launched:05/12/2007 08:08:58 AM PDT
Solano and Napa counties have signed an agreement with Caltrans designed to keep the Highway 12 road-widening project rolling.

The three agencies have agreed to co-manage the project, which would make improvements to the dangerous stretch of highway known as Jameson Canyon Road. The section stretches from Highway 29 in Napa County to Interstate 80 in Solano County.

The new pact would allow the counties to move forward on the project if Caltrans gets bogged down in its numerous other projects in the region, Napa County Transportation Planning Agency board member Bill Dodd said Friday.

It also gives both counties more influence over any changes over the course of the work, he said.

"We believe having more local control will allow us to bring the project in on time and on budget," Dodd said.

Caltrans has estimated the cost of widening Jameson Canyon Road from two to four lanes at $139 million.

The California Transportation Commission recently awarded $74 million of that sum to the project from traffic congestion relief bonds approved by the voters last November.

NCTPA Executive Director Jim Leddy said the amount the state granted was less than requested because the voters of both counties turned down sales tax measures designed to ease traffic congestion.

State commission members said allotting more money would be unfair to those communities that have approved such self-help fees.

"We were penalized for not having a local sales tax but we're going to make it work," Leddy said. "It won't be everything we need right now but it will be a good first step in solving the congestion on Jameson Canyon."

He added that the new agreement will give the counties the ability to push the project along to its estimated completion date in 2013.

"If there are any problems, it gives us a powerful position in this process instead of being reliant on Caltrans." he said. "It puts Napa County in the driver's seat with Solano County as a partner."

E-mail Dan Judge at UBDJudge@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6831.

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