Transportation commission sets improvement goals |

Transportation commission sets improvement goals

Greg Risling

The El Dorado County Transportation Commission identified six unfunded projects that qualify for the 1998 State Transportation Improvement Program at its recent meeting on Thursday.

Two of the Western Slope projects are on Highway 50. A truck climbing lane at the Bass Lake Grade and a $20 million carpool lane from El Dorado Boulevard to Prarie City Road are tabbed as priorities.

With the assistance of several state and local organizations, which include Caltrans and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the commission has completed a six-year nomination plan that deals with regional transportation needs.

The draft plan is required by the state’s Transportation Commission which in turn uses it to prepare its own seven-year outlook. After all of the county agencies have filed documents with the CTC by December 15, project funding through the state highway account is dispersed next April.

Local agencies requesting funds from the state have experienced a fiscal drought over recent years. In the ’94 and ’96 STIPs, there weren’t any new projects completed because of urgent items like the statewide seismic retrofit program for bridges and other structures.

CTC Deputy Director of Highways David Brewer said the EDTC and the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, the lead group representing the Tahoe Basin, have roughly $4 and $6 million respectively coming their way in four-year increments. Since previously funded projects have taken a major piece of the state highway account, these priority projects wouldn’t begin until later in the program cycle.

“It is reasonable to say that funding highway projects this year will happen,” said Brewer. “In a seven-year program, most of those [unfunded] projects won’t start until after the year 2000.”

The $1.5 million truck climbing lane at Bass Lake is slated to begin construction in 2001. Other projects the EDTC put on the list are:

– Missouri Flat Road at Canal Street in Placerville – a $14.6 million widening project from four to six lanes.

–Ray Lawyer Drive interchange, constructing on and off-ramps.

Helpful in funding projects is last year’s adoption of a traffic impact mitigation fee in El Dorado County which will generate $100 million over 20 years for state highway projects. EDTC planner John Clerici said bringing their own money to the state funding table can assist in bargaining.

The CTC has made it apparently clear that only state highway construction has any chance of making the list although commuter rail and off-highway road projects are eligible for STIP.

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