County officials talk about the roads we drive
The topic was roads at the community meeting held this week by Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan. Michael J. Penrose, director of the county Department of Transportation, talked about issues with area roads after MacGlashan started the meeting off with a review of recent county budget actions.
Penrose, an engineer with more than 20 years in county transportation who was appointed director in 2008, started out with an explanation of where the money comes from for roads. Funding has been "in reduction mode for a number of years," he said, even though there are "dedicated funding streams" for maintaining and constructing roads. The gas tax has been "basically flat" because of reduced traffic and more fuel efficient vehicles; federal funding for infrastructure has decreased, sales tax revenue has declined, and development fees for roads aren't due until projects are built.
Then Penrose tackled the specific problems of two-lane roads Murietans depend on every day.
A map distributed at the meeting showed numerous incremental repairs on Scott and Stonehouse roads in the last decade. Click map for larger image.
This winding, hilly county road that connects Rancho Murieta to Folsom is classified as a two-lane rural collector road and scenic roadway in the county general plan, Penrose said. While there is no project and no money to improve and widen it, since 2003 the transportation department has budgeted about $200,000 a year for road paving and culvert replacement and will continue to do so, Penrose said. He displayed a map displaying the incremental improvements.
The road is used by 2,500 vehicles a day, in contrast to 100,000 on Watt Avenue, but nevertheless, "It's a real demand," Penrose said.
Deer Creek will continue to flood the road and close it during winter rainstorms because the fix is to raise the roadway and add a bridge, a project that would cost millions, Penrose said. "We don't have the money for it."
Audience members contributed concerns about the safety of the road that included an observation that truck traffic was increasing, which Penrose said he would look into.
Michael Penrose, director of the Sacramento County Department of Transportation, spoke on Scott Road and other transportation issues at a community meeting Sacramento County Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan held Wednesday at the Community Services District Building.
Residents take Stonehouse Road to get to Scott Road for the trip to Folsom. "That thing is bad," Penrose said after driving the road on his way to the meeting. In addition to bad sightlines, the road shares other problems with Scott Road. The base of both roads is inadequate, and the county uses the same incremental repair plan for both. Penrose said an overlay will be applied to about 3,000 feet of the road, from Highway 16 intersection to Escuela Drive, in August.
Highway 16/Jackson Road
In the mid-1990s, Caltrans carried out a safety project to improve Highway 16, a state road, from Sunrise Boulevard to Murieta North. Penrose was asked: Why did the project stop there instead of continuing to Murieta South?
At the time, the accident problems Caltrans was addressing weren't as prevalent in the segment between Murieta North and South as they have been since, and any safety improvements would have required widening the highway bridge, and Caltrans wasn't prepared to take on the expense, Penrose said.
Today Caltrans says the accident rate for that segment is "moderately high," but once DUI-related accidents are factored out, Caltrans isn't seeing a pattern of accidents that has a safety improvement solution, Penrose said. The Caltrans assessment is based on a review of CHP accident data.
When asked about the prospects for widening the bridge, Penrose said state and federal funding is available to repair and replace them. The county rates bridges every two years for priority, and Penrose said he would see where the Highway 16 bridge is on the priority list.
Penrose said three major developments planned from Watt Avenue east on Jackson Road have the potential to fund traffic improvements. He also said Caltrans wants to give the state road to the county, and the county is pursuing that on the west end to control access for development fronting the highway. He said the county may never acquire the section of the highway that serves Rancho Murieta because it's rural, with limited development, so the need to control and define access "falls off significantly."
Penrose said he would look into a request to have a speed limit of 45 mph between the North and South gates that some audience members said was rejected by Caltrans a few years ago.
Before introducing Penrose to the handful of people who attended Wednesday evening's meeting, MacGlashan provided details about the budget process and the preliminary general fund budget of "just under $2 billion" the Board of Supervisors adopted on a unanimous vote in June. With property tax revenues down because property values are down, she said the supervisors were faced with a $60 million shortfall in the general fund. During the budget process, about 100 positions were eliminated, most of them vacant, and there are now about 4,000 fewer county employees than five years ago, she said.
Public hearings on the final budget will be held in September. At that time, the board will consider the effect of state cuts for CalWORKS program, changes in how the state handles health care for children; and the criminal justice realignment, which has an allocation from the state of about $28.5 million. "What we don't know yet is how that is going to be allocated among the departments that participate in that, primarily the Sheriff's Department and Probation, a little bit to the district attorney. … The tug of war is between incarceration and rehabilitation, but the two are not mutually exclusive. … We have people now doing their time in a county jail that was never designed for that purpose. … Some of these people have sentences of 10 years or more," MacGlashan said. Boys Ranch remains closed, she said in response to a question from an audience member. "It's mothballed right now," and the Youth Detention facility is the only one for juveniles, she said. "It's unfortunate, but it's a budget reality right now."
Developer and Murietan John Sullivan shared an elevation view of his proposed Murieta Gardens Hotel.
MacGlashan talked about Rancho Murieta participation in planning issues, saying there are two seats available on the Cosumnes Community Planning Advisory Council, and she would be "happy to consider appointing people." She said CCPAC agendas have items that affect Rancho Murieta, such as quarry applications, and large development projects along Jackson Road.
She said a change in the Murieta Gardens project approved last year is in the early stages of discussion at the county planning, and the replacement of office space in the project with an 83-room hotel "will go through the entire planning process, starting with the Cosumnes CPAC, go through an environmental review and go to the planning commission. … I'm sure the community will have a great interest."
Murieta Gardens is a residential and commercial project planned for a 53-acre site across from the Plaza. Murietan John Sullivan, who represents the project, attended Wednesday's meeting and provided MacGlashan with an architect's rendering of the project and information about it.
The next community meeting will be held in October or early November.
- Murieta group buys land, plans for motel (May 31, 2012)