Friday, October 12, 2012

Vallejo cheers new waterfront parking garage's completion

By Jessica A. York
Posted: 10/12/2012 01:03:39 AM PDT

Defiantly proud of this city, Mayor Osby Davis on Thursday commended the completion of Vallejo's waterfront parking structure as telling "the story of who we are and what we're going to be."

 "Vallejo has come back from a lot," Davis said to an audience of several dozen atop the new multi-million dollar garage's pedestrian paseo, which opens to the public Monday. "To those who said we were dying, this is another heartbeat that shows you it's even stronger. We're not dead, and we're moving ahead." 

Caltrans District 4 Chief Deputy Director Dan McElhinney argued that the structure is not just a garage.

"Of course, it's much more important than that," McElhinney said. "It's part of our economy, it's part of our success and we're reinvesting in California and reinvesting in America as we move out of economic hardship."

More than two years ago, Davis similarly stood with U.S. Rep. George Miller for a groundbreaking ceremony on the same site, then just an empty dirt lot and former home to Santa Clara Street's My Café restaurant.

Miller, as well as Rep. Mike Thompson, who is running in November's election to represent Vallejo following last year's congressional redistricting, joined Davis and officials from Solano County, the Vallejo City Council, state and county transportation agencies and many others in a ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday for the parking structure.

Describing the garage as both inviting and exciting, Miller admitted to feeling some trepidation over the years, while waiting on the project's completion. He said on drives to Napa, he would often make a special detour through Vallejo to check on its progress.

"I want to see what's going on over there," Miller said he would explain to his wife. "I was really concerned, because I'm a real optimist about Vallejo's waterfront ... and knowing what's gone on here, that this waterfront to me is one of the gems of the San Francisco Bay Area, I was really concerned what this was going to look like. (But) you did it right ...."

The event comes just prior to the three-level, 750-space garage's public opening, scheduled for 6 a.m. Monday.

City Public Works Director David Kleinschmidt said city maintenance staff will be on hand the first day to offer traffic control assistance, and that regular Baylink ferry commuters on the city's email list will receive notification of the coming garage opening.

The city expects to begin charging daily or monthly garage use fees -- estimated at $5 and $20, respectively -- as early as February. Parking in both the garage and in city waterfront parking lots, will remain free until then, officials said.

Parking security -- in the form of both 26 active surveillance cameras and hired patrol services in and around the garage -- will begin immediately, Kleinschmidt said.

The garage, part of a two-phase project that will eventually include a second garage atop what is now the Santa Clara Street U.S. Postal Service office, was funded primarily through federal, state and county transportation funds, including $7.7 million set aside with the help of Miller. The project has run about $36.7 million so far, officials said.

Contact staff writer Jessica A. York at (707) 553-6834 or Follow her on Twitter @JYVallejo.