Rio Vista City Council Questions the Lack of State Highway 12 Funding
At a Tuesday Rio Vista City Council meeting, a heated topic on the roadwork of HWY 12 and Church Road gave council members a surprise over the lack of funds for one of the two projects. This spurred a strong vocal reaction from council members on how the city and state will handle such a frustrating ordeal.
The situation was that the plan on Church road would have to compromise and possibly halt its progress for another project. If this happens, funds would go from Church road to the intersection HWY 12 plan, which was encouraged by state for the fixture of safety hazards.
City Engineer Cecil Dillon told city council that the total amount of funds for the intersection plan would cost $4.25 million. Dillon confirmed with another engineer that the new pricing for this project was accurate.
Dillon continued on that the project will possibly start in 2019. He reported that funds will come from the city and participating stakeholders. Funds will also come as a cost to an ongoing project on Church Road, which will have to cease the progress in the process. Developers will be requested to give land as the intersection plan rolls underway. There was still a lack of $2 million on funding the intersection plan, according to Dillon.
Mayor Norman Richardson turned to his colleagues on the two decisions the city was faced with. “Do we want to improve an intersection or do we just want to improve Church Road,” he asked his fellow city council members.
“I’m appalled that the state expects the city to fix their highway,” David Hampton, city council member, said. He talked about how nonsensical the idea was that the state neglects to fix its own road problems and having the city put money in for a “turn-lane (fixture for the HWY 12 plan).” Hampton emphasized “state highway,” suggesting disapproval on the way responsibility is being handled.
“Why shouldn’t we expect the state to fix the highway?” Hampton continued, “It’s the state’s highway, not the city’s.”
Constance Boulware, council member, suggested a compromise from the state to fund some money into the project. She wanted an “explanation about why the state doesn’t want to take financial responsibility for a state owned highway.”
Council members talked about funding and Richardson reached the conclusion that there were uneducated opinions on how budgeting worked on the funding. He suggested the idea that a member of Solano Transport Authority (STA) come for an upcoming city council meeting to educate on the issue.
City staff opened up the idea that there was still a lack of funds. Despite the $2.1 million that will be raised by halting the Church Road project, there was still another $2 million that needed to be raised somehow and city staff reported that STA and CALTRANS won’t pay the remainder of money.
There were further talks about funding and Richardson again reminded the council members that he’d like to halt talks on the matter and resume that discussion when STA comes to make their presentation.
Vice Mayor James McCracken was surprised how city council approved $2.1 million on work on Church Road. It came to a surprise to McCracken that the Church Road project was stopped before being approved on its halt by city council. He questioned the governor of California on how he was allocating money to different projects and how they were going to questionable projects like “highspeed railroads and double tunnels.”
McCracken was in disapproval on stopping the current project on Church Road and he was encouraging the idea that the community speak up to the state regarding the way they are using funding by CALTRANS.
He explained how STA will come and go and nothing will change on the status quo, a situation where there was a lack of funds. He cut it straight saying, “we don’t have the money and they don’t have the money. Are we going to take it from Church Road?”
“We can’t turn over and give them everything they want,” McCracken said. He continued how the highway belonged to the state and how they should fix it. “We can’t just bend over to the state. We need to take control of our city.”
Richardson reached a boiling point and said he gave up on the idea of fixing the intersection at HWY 12. Boulware interrupted his train of thought, quoting another party that “one project shouldn’t be given up for the other.” There was already $600,000 on the Church Road project and Richardson agreed with Boulware.
The current Church Road project had stopped. City council would like to resume progress and Hampton said, “The council gave no instruction on stopping the Church Road project.”
Further discussion on this topic will continue at city council’s upcoming meeting on Mar. 15 at 6PM.