Hwy. 12 decision Monday?
After another face-to-face meeting with Department of Finance officials last Thursday, county officials have been told that a decision on the Highway 12 project will be made by Monday, Oct. 15.
Three times the county has submitted the half-finished Highway 12 project to the state as a part of its recognized obligation payment schedule (ROPS), and twice the state has failed to approve the project.
This is the second face-to-face meeting between state and county officials on the project. The first meeting was in June and the state at that time also promised a decision that never arrived.
First District Supervisor Valerie Brown said Kathleen Kane, executive director of the Sonoma County Community Development Commission; Steven Shupe, county counsel; 5th District Supervisor Efren Carrillo and John Haig, redevelopment manager, met for a half-hour in Sacramento with Department of Finance officials. Both Brown and Carrillo are on the county’s Oversight Board that was established to wind up the projects of the now-dissolved redevelopment agency, while Shupe is the board’s counsel.
Brown said the DOF officials the county met with were higher-level than the ones the county met with in June.
“We told the state, ‘If we do it, we take care of it. We’ve got it half done with, the rights-of-way and the PG&E undergrounding. Everything is in place – but we need help,’” she said.
Brown said the county officials pointed out that if the county doesn’t complete the project, there could be lawsuits concerning the rights-of-way, among other things.
Phase II of the Highway 12 project was just weeks away from going out to bid earlier this year when the redevelopment agencies were dissolved.
All of the preliminary plans, the utility undergrounding and securing the rights-of-way have been completed.
“This is a safety issue,” Brown said.
The Department of Finance has been reviewing the ROPS from the more than 400 former redevelopment agencies around the state that were dissolved after a state Supreme Court ruling in December, 2011.
“For some reason,” Brown said, “I think the state felt it was required to challenge everything. Why? That’s unclear. But they agreed to reconsider.”
Brown said county officials pointed out that Highway 12 is a state highway and is hazardous. “The county’s willing to take the project on,” she said.
“The state believes they’ll have a decision by Oct. 15,” she added.
That’s this coming Monday.