The "lifeblood" that is Highway 12 is under much scrutiny as it is closely evaluated for the potential economic benefits to the region.
Running from Lodi through Solano County to Napa, the highway is a major "vein" of transportation. Major safety improvements have been made along the corridor and possible structural improvements are being studied.
The Solano Economic Development Corporation was hired by the Solano Transportation Authority to complete an economic analysis of the Highway 12 corridor before major studies are completed.
Consultant Robert Fountain with Regional Economics Consulting addressed an audience of about 30 people gathered Thursday night in Rio Vista for a community outreach workshop. The highway runs through the city.
He explained that an analysis like the one conducted by Solano EDC is almost never done.
"This is done in the right order, where the economics is first," he said.
He said the study has already been an eye opener, revealing just how much traffic is on the highway. He said some larger highways in the state see significantly less traffic than the two-lane road.
The study has also shown that, unfortunately, the highway isn't doing much for Rio Vista, as trucks hauling goods pass through the small city without stopping. Instead, the city's revenue is heavily determined by the natural gas industry.
Fountain also noted that the money isn't in agriculture but rather food processing.
"This study is informing you of the economic choices," said Sandy Person, president of Solano EDC. "We're here out of respect to Rio Vista. You've been active and vocal and we want your voices heard throughout this process. The project will be defined by community participation."
Consultants developed three scenarios for consideration:
* Minimum improvement: This scenario includes safety improvements with little capacity enhancement;
* Middle improvement: This scenario includes a slight change in the number of lanes in key traffic areas; and
* Maximum improvement: This scenario is a four-lane divided highway, two lanes on each side with a median and extensive improvements of intersections and access areas.
All scenarios would add to the gross regional product and add to revenues, however, the maximum-improvement scenario would add $622.9 million to the gross regional product and $1.1 billion to the region's revenues.
How the bridge over the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta on Highway 12 will improve with the rest of the roadway also is unknown at this point, according to the consultants.
The presentations during the workshop are available online at www.solanoedc.org.
Residents are also asked to answer a couple of questions: What are your top priorities for the development of the corridor and Rio Vista and, if the economy expands, what improvements/amenities/investments do you think Rio Vista and/or the state should consider first?
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Melissa Murphy at Twitter.com/ReporterMMurphy.