County backs range of grant projects promoting air quality

By From page A1 | April 07, 2014

El Dorado County Supervisors voted 4-1 to approve six proposals recommended by the county’s Air Quality Management District. The April 1 action supports projects ranging from continuing the County Fair Shuttle to Electric Vehicle Infrastructure development in the city of Placerville and a “Stay and Play Shuttle” program sponsored by the El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce.

Over the next two years, approximately $818,000 will be available under the state’s AB 2766 Subvention Funds collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles from vehicle registration fees, Air Pollution Control Officer Dave Johnston told the board during his presentation. The recommended projects were vetted and evaluated by AQMD engineers using several criteria especially “calculating cost effectiveness per pound of emissions reduced,” presentation documents note.

In order of their cost effectiveness relative to their emission reduction, the first proposal, the “Highway 50 Corridor’s Bicycle Friendly America Initiative” is under the jurisdiction of the 50 Corridor Management Association. Proponents asked for $15,000 in AB 2766 funding to boost cycling in the El Dorado Hills area through a combination of programs, events and educational materials. The project will be directed by TMA staff based in Folsom. School materials, safe cycling materials, signs and banners and incentives will focus on achieving “Bicycle Friendly Designations” in as many locations as possible in El Dorado Hills. Designations, in effect, are rankings established by the American League of Cyclists, and qualifying for them is considered “extremely rigorous.” The local program is based on the “5 Es: Engineering, Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Evaluation (and Planning)” the project description reads.

Members of the Cameron Park cycling community have supported the proposal and asked to be included in the larger project. If successful, the program would expand to include both communities. The cost effectiveness factor is estimated at $50 to remove or eliminate one pound of emissions from the air. At that rate, AQMD staff made it the highest-ranked proposal, Johnston explained.

Next on the list is development of Electric Vehicle Infrastructure in the city of Placerville. Simply, the city will install a charging station downtown on Main Street. In a partnership with the Nissan automobile company, the city plans to provide a “fast charging” station that would charge electric car batteries in about 30 minutes. The idea is that people will visit and shop downtown while waiting for their car to take on “fuel.” A second element of that grant is to develop a similar station in Meyers at South Lake Tahoe. The recommended grant request is $160,960. It’s estimated that each of the stations would remove emissions at a per-pound cost of $86.

For $20,000 of grant funds, the city would also replace a light-duty truck, thereby eliminating emissions at a rate of $107 per pound.

The El Dorado County Chamber of Commerce will re-offer its Stay and Play Shuttle program for 2014-2015. Using the recommended $80,421 of AB 2766, the following project description was submitted to supervisors through the AQMD:

“The El Dorado Stay and Play Shuttle program is designed to address transportation and lodging concerns with regard to weddings and large events. The shuttle will encourage group transportation and overnight stays from El Dorado County lodging to regional wedding and event venues by sharing the cost with applicant. Total contribution will be based on number of room nights at one or more EDC Lodging. Included in the Stay and Play program will be elements of public education with regard to emissions, public behaviors and the benefits of public and group transportation to the community as well as ride share options.”

Stay and Play anticipates a cost-effectiveness ratio of approximately $342 per pound, according to Johnston’s chart.

The Coloma Shuttle by the American River Recreation Association requested $159,200 for a per-pound reduction rate of $432 for the life of the 24-month project. The following project description was submitted along with the ARRA’s proposal documentation:

“The American River Recreation Association (ARRA), a non-profit organization focused on river access and recreational advocacy, will manage the Coloma Shuttle program during the AQMD grant period from 2014 to 2015. The Coloma Shuttle will utilize two vans and trailers provided by El Dorado County AQMD providing 255 days of service for river corridor recreation and the local community on the South Fork American River from the Chili Bar put-in to the Skunk Hollow take-out. The shuttle will operate during the months of March through December in 2014 and 2015. Shuttle service from the Folsom Light Rail Station will be added in 2015 providing a means for mass transit users to travel to the Coloma/Lotus area during the high tourist months of July and August.”

Helpful as it may be at reducing traffic and congestion during the four-day county fair, the El Dorado Transit shuttle bus program is last on the project list for cost-effectiveness at reducing air pollution. For a total of $61,137 in AB 2766 funds over two years, county staff calculated a cost per pound of emissions reduction at $672. The reasons are not obvious at first glance, primarily, because of the relatively short distance of each shuttle round trip. For example from the county’s main library down the hill to the fairgrounds is less than one mile. The longest run is less than eight miles round-trip, according to the proposal’s data. Short trips and the increase in “cleaner” vehicles the bus is replacing combine to reduce the overall effectiveness of the shuttle program in terms of air pollution. Also, the bus keeps going around and around while its passengers are at the fair, again reducing its effectiveness as an anti-pollution weapon. Thus, the lower score for the project, Air Quality Engineer Adam Baughman explained in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat.

Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or [email protected] Follow @CDaleyMtDemo.

Chris Daley

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