El Dorado County Supervisors, for the second time, have put off a decision on a proposal to advance $2 million to the city for Phase 1A of its Western Placerville Interchange project. The loan would make it possible for the city to begin “mobilization” and cover “the first payment to the contractor,” according to documents from the Chief Administrative Office.
Phase 1A is construction of a westbound on-ramp from Highway 50 at what will become the Western Placerville Interchange, also known as the Ray Lawyer Interchange.
The money would be loaned from the county department of transportation’s Road Fund and repayment will be made from a $6 million grant the city will eventually obtain in reimbursements from the California Transportation Commission. The grant was approved under the state’s Corridor Mobility Improvement Account.
So far, however, all of this is educated speculation. As of Thursday Sept. 13, the county had not received documents necessary to complete the loan process. County Auditor Joe Harn alerted supervisors in an Aug. 27 letter that “the City’s audited financial statements for the year ended June 30, 2011, are not yet available.” At their Aug. 28 regular meeting, supervisors postponed discussion or action on the loan proposal to Sept. 11. As of Thursday, the item has been moved to the board agenda for Tuesday.
Harn also noted that both the city and the county are required under Federal law to have their audits completed by March 31, 2012. And with an “in your face” remark Harn said it is unusual for local governments to be late with their audit reports, “but not unusual for the City of Placerville.”
Harn’s letter also expressed his “concern” that the city “has never asked for this loan in writing and articulated the need for this loan in writing.”
Harn responded Thursday to an e-mail from the Mountain Democrat requesting an update on the matter.
The initial phase of the project is expected to relieve congestion to and from the county government center from Placerville Drive and Fair Lane. When completed, the interchange will also service increased traffic in the area anticipated because of the proposed new courthouse facility at Ray Lawyer and Forni Roads.
Under the terms of the grant award, the city must secure a contractor no later than this November. Responding bids were due at the end of August.
“The City is the project owner and will be responsible for construction management and submitting all reimbursement claims to the State for reimbursement,” the county documents state. “The City will need these funds until the project is complete in FY 2013-2014 and the City would reimburse the loan after project close-out.”
Morris’s report to the City Council Aug. 14 gives an abbreviated description of the project. Morris points out that the project is considered to be “a comprehensive solution” to current and future “operational issues on the State Highway and local road systems.”
At completion, Phase 1A, 1B and Phase 2 are estimated to run in excess of $40 million. In addition to the offramp, Phase 1A includes construction of an auxiliary lane connecting to the offramp at Placerville Drive.
Phase 1B includes a “curve correction” on Fair Lane and installation of bike lanes and sidewalks, according to the city’s documents.
The project’s Phase 2 will include improvements to Ray Lawyer Drive and Forni Road south of Highway 50 near the jail and proposed courthouse facility while future plans call for construction of the “Placerville Drive overcrossing and associated local road improvements,” the city’s description notes.
Contact Chris Daley at 530-344-5063 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @CDaleyMtDemo.