Study shows better Highway 12 would boost economy
FAIRFIELD — Improving Highway 12 through Solano County and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta should boost regional business activity that already tops $6 billion annually, according to a new study.
How much ranges from 3 percent to 10 percent, depending on the amount of improvements. Widening Highway 12 to four lanes would generate more job and housing growth than a more modest approach of making only safety improvements to two-lane segments of the highway, the study found.
The Solano Economic Development Corp. prepared the draft Highway 12 Corridor Economic Analysis for the Solano Transportation Authority. Robert Fountain of Regional Economic Consulting did the analysis.
Fountain and the Solano EDC will conduct a workshop on the study at 6 p.m. Thursday at D.H. White Elementary School in Rio Vista.
Study findings are just one more factor for local, regional and state officials to consider when planning a future for Highway 12. Others include the cost of the improvements and environmental factors.
“We have a game plan for the Interstate 80 corridor,” Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls said Wednesday. “Highway 12, we’re still having that conversation.”
The draft study begins by looking at existing economic conditions along 52 miles of Highway 12 from Highway 29 in Napa County to east of Interstate 5 near the Lodi airport. It measures economic activity generated by businesses, governments and households within ZIP codes along the highway and comes up with a gross regional product of $6.4 billion.
Manufacturing and food processing is the biggest economic sector. This includes everything from the Budweiser brewery in Fairfield to General Foods in Lodi to wineries to farms. Next comes government employment, which ranges from Travis Air Force Base to Solano County government to schools to the cities of Fairfield, Suisun City, Rio Vista, Isleton and Lodi.
The Highway 12 corridor as measured by the study is home to 161,707 people and 67,145 jobs.
One possibility for the future Highway 12 is to keep it two lanes in rural areas and make improvements only for safety, not capacity. This would add $183 million to the gross regional product, or a 2.9 percent increase, the study estimated. It would add 1,193 jobs and 965 households.
Another possibility is to improve traffic flow on Highway 12 by adding more passing lanes and improving key intersections. This approach adds $332 million in economic activity for a 5.2 percent boost. It adds 2,286 jobs and 1,849 households.
Finally, all of Highway 12 could be widened to four lanes from Suisun City east through the Delta to Interstate 5 near Lodi. This adds $623 million in economic activity for a 9.7 percent boost. It adds 7,609 jobs and 6,154 households, according to the draft study.
The economic study is to go to the Solano Transportation Authority Board of Directors on July 11.
Other, already completed Highway 12 studies look at possible, new Rio Vista Bridge alignments and traffic issues. Solano Transportation Authority Director of Planning Robert Macaulay said the studies are in “silos,” each focusing on their own particular subjects.
“Now we go all into the one big area where we don’t have the walls that divide these studies anymore,” Macaulay said.
That work of synthesizing the various studies will likely take place before the Solano Transportation Authority’s State Route 12 Steering Committee, which has Solano County representatives, and the State Route 12 Corridor Advisory Committee, which includes representatives from other counties as well.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.