Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Connecting Roadway

This is an important project and just as we need to develop more water storage, we need to develop new transportation routes, as the continued growth is a testament to the quality of life in our area and the amenities offered; all of which increase in qualitative value with sufficient transportation avenues.

An excerpt.

Price of road project soars
The cost of a major Sacramento County connector route may reach $1.3 billion.
By Tony Bizjak - Bee Staff WriterPublished 12:00 am PST Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A major beltway planned for southeast Sacramento County could cost two to three times more than anticipated, possibly topping $1 billion, a stark new financial analysis shows.

The price tag for the Elk Grove-Rancho Cordova-El Dorado connector road -- the biggest road project proposed for the region in decades -- could range from $712 million, if built simply, to $1.3 billion, if a more elaborate design is chosen.

The new numbers, in a Sacramento Area Council of Governments report, dwarf an earlier estimate of $380 million. But officials say even the higher cost is unlikely to scuttle the project, considered critical to relieving congestion in the burgeoning Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova areas.

"This project is much needed; it should have been built 20 years ago," said Jim Cooper, an Elk Grove city councilman. "But we need to be fiscally prudent. We only have a finite number of dollars."

As proposed, the beltway would sweep south of Sacramento, Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova, starting at Interstate 5, crossing Highway 99 at Grant Line Road, and connecting with Highway 50 in El Dorado County.

SACOG officials say the road could range from four to eight lanes at points, depending on traffic demands, and would offer drivers an alternative to clogged county roads and highways 99 and 50.

Environmentalists contend the thoroughfare would open new areas to sprawl and ultimately create even more congestion.

As proposed, the 35-mile project is so massive it would have to be built in phases over years, if not decades.

The new estimates didn't come as a complete shock, said Brian Williams, head of the Sacramento Transportation Authority, given that the original cost estimate was made before details of the project were worked out.

But, "it is a little high," Williams said. "They may have to scale the project back."

Williams' agency, which distributes money from Measure A's transportation sales tax to projects in Sacramento County, pledged $131 million two years ago to the beltway, thinking that would cover one-third of the costs.