RIO VISTA — Another cog in the wheel to move Rio Vista into the future came earlier this month when the City Council agreed to contract with the Solano Transportation Authority for planning services as part of a grant.
The $161,000 grant – with matching funds of $20,859 – is for planning purposes within the city’s 100-acre downtown priority development area. The concept of priority development areas was created under the One Bay Area organization that would like to see more linkage between transportation and land use. The program emphasizes higher-density housing and transportation hubs in downtown areas.
After choosing to participate in the One Bay Area project, the planning grant process began in 2012 for Rio Vista, according to city reports.
The city first looked for planning grant money from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. This one-time grant, however, comes from Solano Transportation Authority coffers instead of being one of the highly competitive Metropolitan Transportation Commission priority development area grants that tend to be structured more for interior Bay Area cities, said Bob Macaulay, director of planning for Solano Transportation Authority.
Benicia is getting a similar grant from Solano Transportation Authority. Dixon was in line for a grant as well before it backed out of the process at the beginning of the month after a City Council vote vetoed its inclusion.
Entering into the agreement with the transportation authority allows the county entity to handle all the administration, plus save money by hiring the same planning study contractor for both cities, Macaulay said. The contractor will bill the transportation authority and it, in turn, receives reimbursement from the state Department of Transportation.
“Rio Vista and Benicia never go out-of-pocket to cover the consultant’s costs,” he said. “They don’t have to go through the cost of carrying on their books a consultant bill while waiting for Caltrans reimbursement.”
The matching funds can also come from staff time, Macaulay said. According to Rio Vista city reports, the matching dollars are earmarked to come from sources outside the general fund, such as transit funds and traffic impact development fees.
The planning funds granted to the smaller cities of Benicia and Rio Vista originally came from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Once in the hands of the local transportation authority, they were not specifically earmarked.
The larger Metropolitan Transportation Commission-regulated funds of more than $1 million dispersed by Solano Transportation Authority were dedicated to Fairfield and Suisun City, which had bigger projects, Macaulay said. The transportation authority then used its own money to supplement the smaller projects for Benicia and Rio Vista.
A small portion of Rio Vista’s planning grant, $5,000, was also allotted to the Regional/Urban Design Assistance Team, said David Melilli, Rio Vista’s public works director.
The group is a team of professionals set to arrive in Rio Vista in February to help create a blueprint the city’s future. Rio Vista was selected after an application process and is one of only two or three cities each year to be accepted into the pro-bono program.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.