Friday, June 15, 2007

Vallejo Transit Funds OK'd

Vallejo Transit Funds OK'd
MTC Approves Nearly $3 Million For Proposed Waterfront Facility
By DAN JUDGE/Times-Herald staff writer
Vallejo Times Herald

A Metropolitan Transportation Commission committee has recommended a nearly $3 million contribution to a new transit hub in Vallejo but nixed $600,000 for an opening day celebration for the new Benicia-Martinez Bridge.

MTC's Programming and Allocations Committee decided Wednesday that $2.8 million of regional bridge toll money should be funneled to the proposed Vallejo Station Intermodal Facility on the city's downtown waterfront.

The funds would help finance right-of-way appraisal and design for the station, which would combine a bus transfer center, a new parking garage for ferry passengers and improved pedestrian connections to the ferry terminal and downtown Vallejo.

Solano County Supervisor Jim Spering, who represents the county on MTC, called himself "a big champion" of the intermodal facility on Thursday.

"Over time, you can see Vallejo is going to develop as Solano County's transportation hub and our link into the Bay Area," he said. "I think we need to invest in that."

The project, he said, will not only improve mobility, but also will enhance the quality of life in the waterfront area.

The ultimate plan is for private developers to build new housing and commercial projects on adjoining sites, he said.

The funding approved by the committee includes $2.4 million for the final design of a 1,200-space parking structure, York Street Paseo Park and various other street improvements.

The full commission will vote on the committee recommendation at its June 27 meeting.

The committee was not as pleased with adding a $600,000 public celebration bill to the $1.2 billion already spent on the construction of the Benicia-Martina Bridge.

The proposed celebration plan included $210,000 in transportation costs to bring Benicia and Martinez residents to and from the bridge. About $75,000 was reserved for consultants to put on the event, another $75,000 was earmarked for security, first aid and labor while $50,000 was set aside for goody bags that were to be handed out.

MTC officials say they want a new, cheaper plan in place by mid-July and Spering agreed.

"I did not support spending that much money on a bridge party," he said. "That much money could go toward a lot of very desperately needed projects in Solano County."

MTC spokesman Randy Rentschler said the term "party" that many are using is misleading. He said the goal of the celebration proposal was to simply give the public access to the bridge and provide a safe environment, which is an expensive undertaking.

"If we can find a way to do that in the cost-effective way the commissioners are asking us to do, we're going to do that," he said.

The new span is scheduled to open in August.

E-mail Dan Judge at or call 553-6831.

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