FAIRFIELD — Suisun Valley could be in the running for regional grants designed to preserve areas with open space, agricultural, scenic, historical and similar attributes.
In Suisun Valley’s case, the idea would be to get grant money for improving the valley’s rural roads. While roads are often associated with paving over farmland, the county in this case is making the argument that the contemplated improvements would help keep the valley in agriculture.
The Solano County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved asking the Association of Bay Area Governments to name Suisun Valley as a priority conservation area.
Solano County in 2008 adopted the Suisun Valley Strategic Plan, which calls for a valley with thriving farms, wineries and produce stands, as well as several business centers to serve tourists. The plan calls for widening and improving certain roads in an effort to help farmers get their goods to market and to help spur tourism.
The proposed road improvement are to allow for continued use by farming vehicles, maintain the valley’s rural character, discourage high-speed driving, improve access after storms and accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists, according to the plan. Present valley roads are narrow without shoulders.
Among the improvements called for in the plan are adding shoulders, left-turn lanes into businesses and crosswalks in certain areas along Suisun Valley, Mankas Corner and Rockville roads and other roads.
The hoped-for grants would come from the One Bay Area program by the Association of Bay Area Governments and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. One Bay Area calls for having areas designated as priority development areas – often based around mass transit – and as priority conservation areas. The agencies can funnel federal dollars to these areas.
A total of $10 million is available through grants for the priority conservation area program. The first $5 million is to go to the North Bay counties of Marin, Napa, Solano and Sonoma, with each county to get $1.25 million.
Solano County already has five priority conservation areas designated in 2007. They are the Vacaville-Fairfield greenbelt, including Cement Hill; the Blue Ridge mountains west of Vacaville; the hills above Suisun and Green valleys; the hills between Fairfield, Vacaville and Benicia; and the Bay Area Ridge Trail and Bay Trail.
A county report expressed concern that these other five areas won’t have projects ready by 2016, which is the One Bay Area grant program funding cycle.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.