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Road projects are on a roll

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El Dorado County supervisors unanimously approved a comprehensive road improvement program at Tuesday’s regular board meeting. The two-step process began with a resolution to adopt the 2021 Capital Improvement Program.

In the second step Department of Transportation Director Rafael Martinez and DOT staff engineers recommended the addition of six new projects to the CIP.

The additions are pavement rehabilitation on Wentworth Springs Road; safety upgrades to guardrails; safety improvements to guardrails on Ice House Road; installation of recessed edge lines; pedestrian safety improvements; and safety improvements on Pleasant Valley Road.

Supervisors further directed staff to prepare a workshop within 90 days to begin an in-depth exploration of a broad range of issues relating to funding and governing of road improvement plans and projects.

The issue represents a cornucopia of “federal, state and local funding sources, including the Traffic Impact Fee Program (now known as Traffic Impact Fund, Tribe funds, accumulative capital outlay, developer advanced funds, Missouri Flat Master Circulation and Financing Plan, Sacramento Municipal Utility District and/or the county’s General Fund.”    

County Counsel David Livingston advised the board to “realize it’s very complex and involves many (agencies and jurisdictions). You may be solving a problem but creating another one.”

Much of the concern centers on the El Dorado Hills area and its projected growth. A number of improvement projects have been in and out of the CIP over years and even decades, especially El Dorado Hills Blvd. and Bass Lake Road (4 lane project).

DOT Engineer Natalie Porter speaking as the veteran of the issues explained that fee programs are really about the money you have at a particular time. She noted that for long-term projects, “You don’t get some of it till the end of build-out.” Meanwhile you spend what you have in hand, she clarified.

Livingston added that some projects or plans may require changing the county’s General Plan which would bring a whole other set of issues and requirements (local as well as state) into play.

Supervisors acknowledged that many improvement projects are needed in anticipation of significant growth, especially at the west end of the county. Chairman John Hidahl cautioned that “incremental development narrows options for future planning.

“I recognize the box DOT is in and we need to try to open it up,” he added. “How do we look at long-range expansion?” he added.

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