Thursday, June 14, 2007

New Official Eyes Local Roads

New Official Eyes Local Roads
By Danny Bernardini/Staff Writer

California Transportation Commissioner Jim Earp (left) talks Wednesday in Fairfield with Solano County supervisors John Silva (middle) and Jim Spering. (Joel Rosenbaum/The Reporter)

Jim Earp knows firsthand the frustrations of the traffic situation in Solano County, having commuted frequently between two offices on opposite ends of the Interstate 80 corridor.

That's why his recent appointment as Commissioner of the California Transportation Commission might bring good news to the county - state funds to help cure troublesome bottlenecks.

Earp has worked alongside many of those currently pushing for funding for local projects.

On Wednesday evening, the Solano Economic Development Corporation welcomed Earp to its new offices near Solano College Wednesday evening and Earp told the group he appreciates the funding challenges of such projects as the Interstate 80/I-680 interchange.

Because of Solano's stretch from Rio Vista and Dixon toward the Bay Area, there are many different types of people to please, Earp said.

"We've worked in the trenches, but we haven't won the war," Earp told the group in a short speech. "I think it's a challenging county to get things done. Measures must appeal to the whole county."

As Executive Director of the California Alliance for Jobs, which has offices in Emeryville and Sacramento, Earp is no stranger to the I-80/680 bottleneck. He's familiar with the dangers of Highway 12 and said these and other issues need to be resolved, but it will take a large financial contribution from the county as well as the state. He said a combination of developer fees and a sales tax likely would be needed.

"It's really critical to get local funding for Solano County," he said.

"There's not enough money coming from the state for the big daddy (I-80/680 interchange)."

He said as the problems with transportation continue to grow, those using the roadways are starting to realize something needs to be done.

"People get it. They're fed up with it and want a change," he said. "In California, that's the name of the game. More than half the money comes locally."

Harry Price, mayor of Fairfield, said I-80 serves as a main thoroughfare for goods, services and people going to work and needs to better accommodate them. He said having someone from the state level personally know the issues is a positive.

"It's very important to have a commissioner spend some time taking a close look at our traffic concerns," Price said.

Danny Bernardini can be reached at

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