Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Connector JPA OKs design guidelines, finance plan

From page A1 | March 29, 2013 |

The Southeast Capital Connector Joint Powers Authority took a big step forward at its March 8 meeting at Rancho Cordova City Hall, approving project design guidelines and a finance plan.

Both measures received unanimous support from the board: Chairman David Sander, Rancho Cordova; Patrick Hume, Elk Grove; Don Nottoli, Sacramento County; Jeff Starsky, Folsom; and Ron Mikulaco, El Dorado County.

Supervisor Mikulaco is the newcomer to the board, replacing his predecessor John Knight. Mikulaco attended the first JPA board meeting of 2013 on Feb. 8.

The two votes move the project out of the overall planning phase and into the initial financing and construction phase, but they were not made without overcoming several hurdles and identifying future issues needing resolution.

Many metropolitan areas have transportation rings surrounding the urban area so traffic does not have to go through the central city to get from one side to another. For various political and financial reasons over the years, this has not happened in the Sacramento region.

In 2006 an agreement was reached to form a joint powers authority among the five jurisdictions to design and build a 35-mile transportation connection between Interstate 5 at the Hood Franklin Road interchange to the proposed Silva Valley interchange at Highway 50 in El Dorado Hills.

The entire alignment follows existing roadways. White Rock and Grant Line roads form the longest section of the connector. The three miles in El Dorado County run from the El Dorado-Sacramento county line along White Rock Road to Highway 50.

The cooperative venture ensures that all jurisdictions are eligible for state and federal cost sharing and the entire parkway will be consistent in design.

Phase 1 of the Joint Powers Agreement is complete. The overall Program-level Environmental Impact Report was certified by the JPA board in March 2012. Each of the member jurisdictions approved resolutions supporting project alignment, and directed staff to participate in development of the project design guidelines, which include solar lighting, light-colored roadway surface and landscaping.

In April 2012 the Environmental Council of Sacramento filed a lawsuit challenging the project’s Programmatic Environmental Impact Report and general alignment certification. The lawsuit was settled in November. The project will provide benefits to the South Sacramento Habitat Conservation Plan.

Phase II includes planning, engineering, estimates, land acquisition and improvements.

The entire project is currently estimated to cost $463 million. Revenue sources are identified as Measure A (Sacramento’s tax), new construction fees and state and federal funds.

Amending the deal

Last year El Dorado County officials had concerns serious enough to consider withdrawing from the JPA. Knight sent a letter to the JPA in November 2012 outlining the county’s opposition to the stipulation that the JPA would be able to use eminent domain powers in any jurisdiction with a four-fifths vote, and that the JPA could impose indebtedness on any member jurisdiction. At the Dec. 14, 2012, JPA meeting the board passed a resolution meeting El Dorado County’s demands.

At the March 5 El Dorado County Board of Supervisors meeting Chief Assistant County Counsel Patricia Beck described the draft resolution developed by El Dorado County and JPA staff. It states that the JPA cannot exercise eminent domain authority within a member’s jurisdiction, nor can it financially obligate a member jurisdiction without the consent of the member jurisdiction’s Board of Supervisors or City Council.

Connector JPA Executive Director Tom Zlotkowski spoke to the Board of Supervisors, saying the JPA wants to work with the member jurisdictions to resolve problems and urged El Dorado County to continue participation in the project.

Board Chairman Ron Briggs said he wanted Mikulaco to go to the March 8 JPA meeting “with the full support of the El Dorado County board.” Mikulaco moved approval of the resolution, seconded by Supervisor Brian Veerkamp, and it passed on a 3-0 vote; Supervisors Ray Nutting and Norma Santiago were absent.

El Dorado County Senior Civil Engineer Claudia Wade, from the Transportation Planning and Land Development Division, attended the March 8 Connector JPA meeting. She explained the right-of-way issues El Dorado County is dealing with in connection with the Silva Valley interchange. Although the county rarely exercises eminent domain, it is doing so with one parcel that is part of that project.

With respect to potential involuntary indebtedness, Mikulaco told his fellow JPA board members, “El Dorado County has no Measure A. We have Measure Y, TIM fees (Traffic Impact Mitigation).”

Measure A was passed in Sacramento County in 1988. It raised the sales tax by one-half cent to fund a comprehensive program of roadway and transit improvements. The connector is identified on its list of projects. Measure A was renewed in 2004 to expire in 2029.

Measure Y, the Control Traffic Congestion Initiative in El Dorado County, also passed in 1988. In 2008, it was amended and extended 10 years. The purpose of Measure Y is to mitigate traffic impacts of new development. The schedule of traffic mitigation impact fees was revised on April 3, 2012. El Dorado County’s portion of the connector, including the Silva Valley Interchange, is in TIM Zone 8. The impact fee for a single-family home in Zone 8 is $28,140.

What’s next?

Zlotkowski said construction is scheduled to be done in two steps. The first will be a “backbone” roadway improvement of four lanes. He gave a timeline of 2018-22 for completion of that portion. The second step will include interchanges and sections that call for six lanes.

Other projects that will be incorporated into the connector are proceeding independently, said Zlotkowski, citing the work that Sacramento County is doing to straighten the two 90-degree turns on White Rock Road nicknamed the dog leg. The city of Elk Grove is in the process of improving a section of Kammerer Road.

The Plan of Finance outlines the financial components and timing of the project. Land-use authority will remain with the jurisdictions. It will be updated annually to reflect changes in anticipated funding, financing sources and opportunities, and actual project-related revenues and expenditures, beginning in July 2013.

The Plan of Finance does not commit the members to finance the project. “We all recognize that these are living documents,” said Zlotkowski. Starsky said, “There will be changes in the entire area that will change the project.”

The project’s Design Guidelines and the Plan of Finance need to be included in each member jurisdiction’s General Plan. The Plan of Finance calls for a Reciprocal Use and Funding Agreement to be negotiated with each jurisdiction. The agreements may change over time as the needs of the region change.

Chairman Sander said to be successful at receiving federal funds, cities and counties have to be innovative and cooperate with their neighbors.

The next meeting of the Connector JPA will be held on Friday, April 12, beginning at 8:30 a.m., at the Rancho Cordova City Hall.

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