Tuesday, January 13, 2009

County to submit wish list for stimulus package

County to submit wish list for stimulus package
By Barry Eberling | Daily Republic | January 12, 2009

Construction workers build a portion of the North Connector over Dan Wilson Creek earlier last year. The road project will eventually connect Suisun Valley Road to Abernathy Road. Photo by Chris Jordan file

SUISUN CITY - Solano County has a late Christmas list totaling $520 million it will submit to soon-to-be President Barack Obama and Congress.

Washington politicians are talking about crafting a stimulus package to spur the ailing economy, perhaps spending as much as $1 trillion. The county wants to get some of the money that is likely to flow to public works projects.

'We polled all the cities and transit operators,' said Daryl Halls, executive director of the Solano Transportation Authority.

The STA board will review the resulting list Wednesday when it meets at 6 p.m. at Suisun City Hall, 701 Civic Center Blvd.

Build the western end of the North Connector, resurface southern Cordelia Road, extend Manuel Campos Parkway from Mystic Drive to Dickson Hill Road, install public safety preemptors on Fairfield traffic signals, build an interchange at Red Top Road and Highway 12, renovate the Green Valley overpass at Interstate 80 . . .

One possible project is renovating the westbound Interstate 80 truck scales in Fairfield. That would help ease traffic snarls and allow the California Highway Patrol to better inspect trucks. Halls said it would help with goods movement along a major corridor.

'It's really a national project,' he said.

Money has already been set aside to renovate the eastbound scales. Now the STA is seeking $150 million for the westbound scales.

Construction contracts could go out in two years, the list stated.

. . . resurface Sunset Avenue in Suisun City, renovate streets throughout Rio Vista, resurface Neitzel Road in Fairfield, improve Dixon sidewalks, slurry seal 43 miles of Vacaville streets, buy 10 Vallejo paratransit vans, convert various Vacaville fleet cars to run on compressed natural gas . . .

Many of the proposed projects are relatively modest. They improve existing roads instead of building new ones. They replace buses.

Halls called these the 'bread-and-butter things,' adding the focus needs to be on the basics during a crisis.

Many such projects can have a contract awarded within 90 days to six months. One stated goal of a potential stimulus package is to pump money into the economy as soon as possible.

The MTC has been focusing on what it calls its Freeway Performance Initiative to make existing freeways more efficient. Halls said that one part of that could be to add I-80 message signs that tell of traffic conditions ahead.

. . . replace Rio Vista dock, build old town Cordelia pedestrian path, replace Grizzly Island Road bridge, improve Fairfield bus stops, build a Vacaville transit center, extend the Vacaville-Dixon bike path, extend the Ulatis Creek bike path in Vacaville . . .

The STA will submit its list to local congressional representatives, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the state Department of Transportation. All could play a role in what projects get selected.

Reach Barry Eberling at 425-4646, ext. 232, or beberling@dailyrepublic.net.