Solano County

State commission to vote on interstate project

By From page A1 | January 08, 2013

FAIRFIELD — It’s a $1.3 billion vote on the interstates 80 and 680 interchange project that will yield absolutely no money immediately, but makes future state funding possible.

The 11-person California Transportation Commission holds the purse strings for state highway money. It will vote Tuesday whether to approve the proposed interchange project for future funding consideration, given that the project environmental impact report is now complete.

Emphasis is on the word “future,” possibly over decades as various phases are undertaken. Commissioners meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Hilton Arden West, 2200 Harvest St. in Sacramento.

A range of projects to improve Interstate 80 traffic flow through Fairfield come under the title of the “interstates 80 and 680 interchange project.” Relocating and rebuilding the interchange itself is only one of them.

Among the other projects included in the environmental impact report are rebuilding the Green Valley Road interchange and the Suisun Valley Road interchange along I-80 and relocating the westbound I-80 California Highway Patrol truck scales. Projects even extend to building a Pennsylvania Avenue overcrossing along Highway 12 near Suisun City, on the logic that Highway 12 rush-hour traffic backs up onto I-80.

Building everything envisioned in the  environmental impact report will cost $1.3 billion, a California Transportation Commission report said. However, that’s in today’s dollars. The environmental impact report said rising costs over time will bring the price to more than $2 billion.

California Transportation Commission staff recommends that the commission approve the interchange project “to allow for future funding consideration.”

The day when the first funding request will come is near. The commission is scheduled on May 8 to vote on funding a first phase of the interstates 80 and 680 interchange project, a Solano Transportation Authority report said.

This first phase is to cost $111 million. It consists of rebuilding the Green Valley interchange and renovating the westbound I-80 onramps onto Highway 12 at Jameson Canyon leading toward Napa.

The interstates 80 and 680 interchange has long had the reputation as a notorious local traffic bottleneck. In recent years, however, much of the evening backup has been on I-80 east of the interchange. That is one reason that what is called the “interstate 80 and 680 interchange project” has come to address traffic flow along local I-80 in general.

Work on the now-completed interstates 80 and 680 interchange environmental impact report began in 2002. Along the way, such projects as the eastbound truck scales relocation now under construction and the completed segments of the North Connector were broken off into separate projects with separate environmental reports.

The Solano Transportation Authority, which is governed by local mayors and a member of the Solano County Board of Supervisors, approved the interstates 80 and 680 interchange environmental impact report in December. The state Department of Transportation has certified the 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.

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