Brown seeks funds for Hwy. 12 plans
THE COUNTY COULD finish the plans for the Highway 12 project making it shovel ready.
Sonoma County may come up with $450,000 to finish the engineering work for the Highway 12 project.
When the Highway 12 project was put on the shelf back in February, as a result of a state Supreme Court decision that dissolved redevelopment agencies statewide, all of the utility undergrounding was finished and the rights-of-way had been acquired. But the engineering plans stalled at 65 percent completion.
The $450,000 would finish the engineering plans making the project shovel ready if funding is found.
First District Supervisor Valerie Brown asked the Board of Supervisors at its Tuesday meeting to have the item for the money placed on a future board agenda – and none of the supervisors objected.
“Getting the board’s backing was huge,” Brown said.
The $450,000 would come from money that would have gone to the redevelopment agency, but is the county’s share coming back from the state.
Brown said that with the engineering plans finished, the latest estimate is that the project would come in at around $6.75 million.
“This would complete the design work,” Brown said. “If there’s any money available, we can tap into it. Although right now, we can’t figure out where it would come from.”
In an effort to find money, Brown, Tom O’Kane, the county’s assistant Public Works director, and Rex Cummins, a senior engineer with Public Works, met with Bijan Sartipi, Caltrans’ District 4 director, last week.
“Caltrans will be watching for funding too,” Brown said. If federal funds are found, it would also require a NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) study that could cost another $100,000.
O’Kane said he was surprised at the lack of concern Caltrans apparently had for the lack of sidewalks along the highway.
“There’s no concern on the part of the state that there is no pedestrian corridor,” he said. “This isn’t rural America. It’s densely populated.”
O’Kane said Caltrans encouraged the county to apply for “Safe Routes to School” money. But the maximum amount the county could get would be $900,000.
A recent video by Valley resident Tom Wetzel about pedestrian hazards on Highway 12 has been making the rounds of Caltrans District 4 Oakland offices.
Brown made sure the Supervisors saw the video. And O’Kane sent the link to Caltrans.
“Showing the video to the Supervisors made a difference,” Brown said.
O’Kane praised Wetzel’s video too. “He did a wonderful job.”
One possibility might mean the Highway 12 project could be broken up into two phases again. It was originally two phases, with Phase 1 from running Encinas Avenue to Boyes Boulevard, and Phase 2 from Boyes to Agua Caliente Road.
But O’Kane said doing the project piecemeal isn’t an efficient way to finish it. “Caltrans only deals with whole projects and they would consider this two projects,” he said. “And it would cost more.”
“The most important aspect is that nobody’s letting go of the need to finish the project,” Brown said. “The Supervisors know it’s a priority.”
O’Kane said that if everything was a “go” at this point, it would still take six months before the project could go out for bids.
“If we had all the money, it would still be May before we went out for bids,” he said. “But we don’t have the money and Caltrans has assigned the team that was working on Highway 12 to other projects.”
But if the county were able to nab some federal funding, it would take considerably longer before it was ready to bid.
“We’ve already done a CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act) for the state,” he said. “We’d have to do a NEPA for the feds and that could take a year at least.”
O’Kane admitted that he’s frustrated.
“We just need our redevelopment money back,” he said.