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:
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.