Solano County

Plans for Highway 12 in east county take shape

By From page A1 | January 31, 2013

hwy 12 study 1_25_13

A new study proposes a revamping of this narrow stretch of Highway 12 west of Rio Vista. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

RIO VISTA — Highway 12 in western Rio Vista carries about 15,000 vehicles daily – about 1,200 of them trucks – yet is narrow and has no shoulders.

This two-mile stretch looks more like a country road than a major highway linking the Central Valley and Bay Area. The state Department of Transportation has installed plastic median posts every few feet to discourage passing, but trucks squeezing along the road often knock them down.

The final version of a multiple-agency Highway 12 study proposes a big change. By 2020, this stretch should be reconstructed so that it has standard-sized lanes, shoulders and a concrete median barrier, the study says. Money must still be found.

Jan Vick, a Rio Vista resident, former Rio Vista mayor and secretary of the Highway 12 Association, sees this as good news. The grassroots association meets regularly to discuss Highway 12 issues and the narrow stretch in west Rio Vista is a major concern.

“We’re trying to get it on the radar and this study helps us,” Vick said.

The study is the culmination of a three-year effort to come up with a master plan for Highway 12 from Highway 29 in Napa County to Interstate 5 in San Joaquin County. Participating agencies are the state Department of Transportation, Solano Transportation Authority, Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the San Joaquin Council of Governments and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

Highway 12 between Suisun City and the Rio Vista Bridge for years had the reputation of being a local “blood alley” because of deaths and injuries from head-on collisions. That began to change about five years ago, with Caltrans making such improvements as adding temporary concrete K-rail in the median near Suisun City, adding plastic median posts in other, narrower stretches and widening a section near the Western Railway Museum. The state made Highway 12 a double-fine zone for traffic violations.

The stretch of Highway 12 east of Rio Vista through the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in Sacramento and San Joaquin counties has also been a safety concern. It is a two-lane road with no median barrier.

Some Highway 12 advocates have wanted to see the two-lane highway turned into a four-lane highway with a concrete median divider from Suisun City to Interstate 5 near Lodi. The study doesn’t go that far in its recommendations.

It proposes an $87 million list of “short-term” projects to be done between 2015 and 2020. They are to:

  • Reconstruct the highway in western Rio Vista from Summerset Drive to Drouin Drive.
  • Make the section in the Rio Vista business district safer for bicyclists and walkers and improve the landscaping and streetscape there.
  • Use technology to measure traffic conditions so emergency crews can respond faster to accidents and motorists can find out travel times.
  • Decide what to do about the Rio Vista Bridge, including whether a taller, four-lane bridge should be built at a different location, taking Highway 12 out of the Rio Vista business district. Another option is to keep the present Highway 12 alignment and bring traffic under the Sacramento River in a tunnel.
  • Make improvements to the Rio Vista and Mokelumne drawbridges, such as replacing aging equipment.

The list of “long-term” projects from 2020 to 2035 calls for such things as building interchanges at Beck and Pennsylvania avenues in Fairfield, installing a permanent median barrier from Suisun City to Highway 113, widening Highway 12 to four lanes from Highway 113 through Rio Vista, building a new, four-lane Rio Vista Bridge and adding a median barrier along the stretch east of Rio Vista through the Delta.

None of these ideas is new. Robert Macaulay, director of planning for the Solano Transportation Authority, said a newly released version of the study has no significant changes from a draft that came out last year.

“We finally have the nice, polished version ready to go,” Macaulay said.

Various agencies involved in the study met over the past few years as an ad-hoc Highway 12 corridor advisory committee. Macaulay foresees them making a more formal effort to push the Highway 12 study forward.

Meanwhile, that short-term recommendation for deciding the long-term fate of the Rio Vista Bridge hinges partly on Rio Vista. Macaulay said Rio Vista needs to state its preference among the Rio Vista Bridge options before work can be done on an environmental impact report.

Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling

Barry Eberling has been a reporter with the Daily Republic since 1987. He covers Solano County government, transportation, growth and the environment. He received his bachelors of art degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and his masters degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley.

Discussion | 8 comments

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  • CD BrooksJanuary 31, 2013 - 9:11 am

    Highway 12 is a road by which we travel but the road is not the problem. Highway 12 much like guns doesn’t kill people, idi*ts do. I have driven that road in cars and trucks a thousand times and had my share of close calls. There needs to be improvements but that alone isn’t enough. Driver education is lacking thanks to parents exhibiting inept “skills” while their kids are the captive audience. There is no end to the stu*idity we see every day from people sanctimoniously trashing the Vehicle Code as they blindly hurtle their 5000 pound weapon down the road. I spoke with a parent at my grandkid’s school yesterday complaining about a woman speeding by as he was helping his little girl out of the car. He gestured like “really?” and the woman flipped him off! Parents: WTF? You are dashing through residential and school zones with your own child and recklessly endangering others? You are complete imb*ciles and need to be addressed as this gentleman and I discussed. Our roads certainly need work, but all the safety nets, all the education and beautiful asphalt will do nothing unless we have cops in large enough numbers to cite these idi*ts careening through our cities while performing unsafe passing/ recklessness on rural roads. So go ahead and make the improvements, but first get these offenders on the same page. We can generate a LOT of revenue and make folks more aware with zero tolerance, full time traffic divisions that will keep us safer in the interim. BTW, the speed limit on Highway 12 is 55MPH. I drive that speed out there so when you come up on me, back off or safely go around without the “salute,” thank you.

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  • Yes, take their license if can't drive 55January 31, 2013 - 10:29 am


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  • Oh.......Mr. Brooks!January 31, 2013 - 10:34 am

    Chicken.....So KWed or MHed....Do tell!

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  • ADAMJuly 10, 2014 - 7:46 am

    to mr brooks... the issues you brought up are true. people do make rash and unfortunatly sometimes fatal decisions on the road. there are many contributing factors to the problem however. such as an ageing infrastructure that was not designed to handle anything near the amount of traffic that is seen today. realisticly, hwy 12 was designed to handle a few hundred vehicles a day not the thousands that it currently sees. another issue is authorities and decision makers that cant do just that....make a decision! fix the problem and stop this reactive band-aid approach to improving 12. as far as the drivers go.. ultimatly decisions drivers make on the road are their responsability. however, that being said.the culture of "enforcement" among authorities is somewhat one sided we concentrate all of our attention to violators who drive wrecklessly or speed but we turn a blind eye to other types of violations...how many times have you been on 12 stuck behind someone. who for whatever reason, be it mild vigilanteism, rudeness, or just becouse they think its funny. drives 10, 15, or on many occasions 20 mph below the speed limit on 12 with no weather issues or traffic in front of them for miles? failing to pull over and let vehicles pass when you will not or can not ttravel the speed limit is a violation of the vehicle code as well as speeding is. should one law be ignored by officials and another enforced just becouse of the danger involved in the latter? ive personally witnessed many drivers on the 12 take unnecessary risks just out of the pure frustration of driving 40 mph in the 55mph zone for miles on end. the point im trying to make is the problems and the answers are not as one sided as to blame speeders or other violators for the problems of 12. there are many contributing factors. the rigion is growing faster than the infrastructure can keep up, and we need innovative solutions

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  • CD BrooksJuly 10, 2014 - 8:33 am

    Adam, I appreciate your comments and I agree. Apologies if I am repeating myself. After many years driving in different equipment, differing conditions and places, there is very little I have not encountered. Of course it is the driver’s responsibility to drive legally and safely. There is no minimum speed limit in California and although frustrating at times, there is nothing stopping folks from driving at what they believe is a safe speed. You can encounter that on any road and it is not at all uncommon for some folks to stay their course remaining to the left instead of moving over when passing lanes are available. My problem is when driving the posted limit of 55mph I don’t deserve to be hassled by somebody wanting to drive much faster. Don’t get me started on the myth known as “enforcement.” There is very little if any and that goes to traffic and other issues. I have seen as many as 12 CHP out there and as few most often as zero. I wish there were 12 every day all day. I wish there was 24/7 traffic enforcement here in Fairfield until there is we will continue to see more of the same. AND crime of all sorts will continue to rise. You want innovative solutions? Highway 12 needs 4 lanes, lights, barriers and a 65 mph limit. And it should have been done long ago. As far as driving? You can’t legislate stupid that is evident on any street in any city any time of any day.

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  • Speaking of SpeedJanuary 31, 2013 - 12:36 pm

    Cehck this out...DoD: Army Successfully Tests Top Secret Hypersonic Weapon..abcnews A Defense spokesperson would not say how similar the Army's AHW program is to the hypersonic jet tested -- and momentarily lost -- by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in August. That jet was designed to travel at a blistering Mach 20, fast enough to travel from Los Angeles and New York in just 12 minutes.

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  • CD BrooksJanuary 31, 2013 - 1:03 pm

    FDC, hello Sir, long time no hear from! Thank yo and I agree, we need to step up the penalties! Have a good day!

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