Tuesday, January 29, 2008

History Of North Connector Proposal Repeats Itself

History Of North Connector Proposal Repeats Itself
By Barry Eberling | DAILY REPUBLIC | January 28, 2008 16:38

FAIRFIELD - People have yet another opportunity to voice opinions on how the proposed North Connector might affect the environment and local communities.

The North Connector is to run about 5 miles and would be along the north side of Interstate 80 from Abernathy Road in Suisun Valley to Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon. The goal is to take local traffic off of the freeway and ease congestion.

But the North Connector also has generated controversy, with some Green Valley residents concerned it will end up carrying regional traffic through their community.

People previously got to comment on the project environmental study in 2006. Then the Solano Transportation Authority decided to do a full-fledged environmental impact report and let people comment in October 2007. Now the STA is circulating a revised environmental impact report.

Once again, the report looks at such issues as how the North Connector would affect farmland, aesthetics and wildlife. And, once again, it concludes that the new road would have no significant negative impacts that cannot be overcome.

Comments can be submitted to the STA through March 3. There will be a public meeting from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Room 1600 at the county Government Center, 675 Texas St.

The environmental report is being circulated again because of comments received on the previous version, STA Projects Director Janet Adams said. In particular, she cited a letter from the state Department of Fish and Game.

'Our original EIR didn't go into detailed discussion about the Swainson's hawk,' Adams said, adding the STA hadn't known about a recent sighting of the hawk near Fairfield.

The North Connector is to be built in three sections: Eastern, central and western. The eastern and western sections are covered in the environmental impact report.

Fairfield will oversee the building of the central section at a cost of about $25 million. This segment is to run from Suisun Creek west to Suisun Valley Road at Mangels Road and be part of a new development on the Garaventa property.

'That is going to move ahead this year,' Public Works Director Gene Cortright said.

Next would come the eastern section, from Suisun Creek east to Abernathy Road, with construction scheduled to begin in 2009. Building costs alone could be about $16 million, not counting such things as buying land. The STA will oversee that project.

Finally would come the western section, from Business Center Drive in Green Valley to Red Top Road at Highway 12 in Jameson Canyon. Construction is to be overseen by the STA and begin around 2016, depending on when an estimated $31 million is available.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, Ext. 232, or at beberling@dailyrepublic.net.

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