Transportation Bond Sale Cancellation May Delay Highway 4 Widening

By Allen Payton, Publisher
The widening of Highway 4 could be delayed due to the cancellation of a state transportation bond sale.

According to information put out by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), the state’s Spring 2011 transportation bond sale has been cancelled in order to save $175 million in the state budget, which is facing a $26.6 billion deficit.

“A moratorium on the spring 2011 bonds has been issued,” said H.D. Palmer, Deputy Director for External Affairs at the California Department of Finance. “It should not delay projects by the 2012 deadline.”

However, that only covers the widening to Somersville Road. The bond sale cancellation affects almost $23 million scheduled for the widening beyond Somersville Road, to Hillcrest Avenue and Highway 160.

Of the $4.5 billion in the Corridor Mobility Improvement Account, in a total of $19.925 billion in bonds authorized by Proposition 1B and passed by voters in 2006, $2.4 billion has already been sold, according to Palmer. The cancellation affects the remaining $2.1 billion in bonds for projects statewide.

A staff report on the issue was made to the Administration & Projects Committee of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority (CCTA), at their monthly meeting, on Thursday, March 3, according to Ellen Wilson, Administrative Assistant for Projects.

“The state’s current economic condition has placed these programs at risk due to the difficulty in selling general obligation bonds and the lack of bond funds,” the report stated.

CCTA staff is recommending approval of “the substitution of up to $22.984 million in Measure J funds for Proposition 1B funds.”

The issue will be on the next Authority Board meeting agenda for discussion, she said. (Neither CTA Executive Director Randy Iwasaki nor Ross Chittenden, Deputy Executive Director for Projects, were available for comment at press time).

 “I’m not surprised, given all the budget issues,” said Councilman Brian Kalinowski, Antioch’s representative on Transplan, East County’s division of the CCTA. “I am hopeful there will be a work around. In the meantime, this gives us time to address the substandard station proposal for the [Hillcrest] eBART station.

 “I’m disappointed, but bad news is the norm in all areas of government, right now,” he added.

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