Thursday, September 06, 2007

$1.83 million funding for the Interstate 80-Jepson Parkway project is released

State releases funding for Jepson route

By MediaNews Staff

Article Launched: 09/06/2007 07:02:34 AM PDT

Funding for the Interstate 80-Jepson Parkway project, which had been on hold because of the state's budget impasse, was released Wednesday by the California Transportation Commission.

The money - $1.83 million - will be used to complete the environmental impact report and engineering detail on the project, which will create a 12-mile 4-to-6-lane route to relieve I-80 traffic between Vacaville and Suisun City.

Daryl Halls, executive director of the Solano Transportation Authority, said although the delay in funding was an inconvenience, it could have been worse.

"This was already in the hopper. If it would have delayed a few more months it could have been a problem," he said. "This is finishing (the environmental portion) off and starting the next step."

The state commission also restored $38 million toward earthquake retrofitting BART's Transbay tube.

Bay area officials were pleased with the BART funding that rapid- transit officials feared was lost because of cuts to state transit funding.

"We are extremely grateful to the CTC, as are our passengers, because this basically means that our earthquake safety program has the funding that it needs to continue on track," said BART spokesman Linton Johnson.

BART directors had pledged to scrounge the money needed to continue the tube retrofit project, which totals nearly $341 million, but other vital system retrofit work would have been delayed, Johnson said.

That would have included work to strengthen both the elevated tracks and elevated stations, Johnson explained.

The expenditures the transportation commission approved were from the State Transportation Improvement Program, which takes in money from a variety of sources, some of which come from the state's annual budget.

The state budget approved last month tapped $1.25 billion traditionally earmarked for public transit and used it for other budgetary needs, such as school busing and transporting clients of centers for the disabled.

The transportation commission approved smaller sums for other Bay Area transportation projects, such as $10 million for widening state Highway 4 through the Antioch area, $4.6 million for a future rail station linking BART, Capital Corridor and future Dumbarton Rail trains in Union City and $1.5 million for a westbound carpool lane extension on state Highway 84 in Newark.

Reporter staff contributed to this report.

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