FAIRFIELD — A long-planned, $12 million Highway 12 project west of Rio Vista is designed to improve safety, but is also raising concerns that it doesn’t go far enough.
The state Department of Transportation wants to widen the shoulders of the narrow highway from Azevedo Road to Summerset Road, a distance of a mile. It wants to add left turn lanes at Currie, McCloskey and Azevedo roads.
Caltrans needs right of way from a rural industrial park owned and operated by Robert Cattey and his brother to move forward. Cattey wants the project modified to ease what he sees as safety and flooding issues affecting his property.
“We want the road fixed and we want it done right,” Cattey said Monday. “That’s the bottom line.”
The California Transportation Commission on Tuesday will consider whether to allow Caltrans to condemn land owned by Cattey for right of way. It delayed a previous Caltrans request in January at Cattey’s request.
Specifically, Cattey wants a left-turn lane on westbound Highway 12 at Cattey Lane leading into the industrial park. The park is home to a variety of tenants, ranging from a crane and rigging company to an equipment yard to a heating and air conditioning business.
“All of our tenants have asked me to have a left-turn lane installed,” Cattey wrote Caltrans in 2008. “They are very worried about the safety of the employees.”
The grassroots Highway 12 Association and Rio Vista wrote letters to Caltrans asking that the left-turn lane be installed.
Large cranes turn left from westbound Highway 12 into the industrial park daily, Rio Vista Mayor Norman Richardson wrote to Caltrans. They wait for a gap in eastbound traffic and back up traffic, creating a safety hazard, he wrote.
“This small industrial park has a number of important businesses to Rio Vista and they employ some of our citizens,” Richardson wrote.
Cattey Lane is a private road, Caltrans officials wrote in a report to the California Transportation Commission. Public funds are not typically used to pay for left-turn lanes into private property. Also, a September 2012 traffic assessment showed no congestion or operational problems there, the report said.
Cattey would also like a culvert enlarged or a new culvert created to ease flooding problems. Caltrans responded that the project won’t make flooding worse and is designed to address safety, not flooding issues.
The Solano Transportation Authority Board of Directors weighed in on the issue at its Feb. 13 meeting. It wants the project to go forward, but also wants all parties to continue to work to resolve Cattey’s issues.
“We don’t want to see the safety project just happen and Caltrans walks away,” Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls said Monday.
Cattey doesn’t want to see the Highway 12 project built now and the issues of the left-turn lane into the industrial park and flooding dealt with later.
“Now is the time to fix the project, right now,” Cattey said.
Caltrans is ready to build the proposed Highway 12 project as the last of a series of Highway 12 safety projects. Others included the widening the highway and smoothing out of “roller coaster” hills near the Western Railway Museum in 2009 and 2010.
Plans to do this series of safety projects date back to the late 1990s and were delayed by environmental issues and state budget problems, Halls said.
Meanwhile, the Solano Transportation Authority is working with the state and other agencies for what it hopes will be a future series of projects to improve Highway 12 from Fairfield through Rio Vista.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.