Caltrans seeks extensive city-funded I - 5 improvements before signing off on Kammerer Road CEQA, Elk Grove city council told

September 12, 2018 | 

During a staff presentation on the City of Elk Grove's long-sought extension of Kammerer Road, council members were told of a possible impediment being placed in their way by Caltrans.

In his report to the city council during tonight's meeting, Kevin Brewsey, the city's capital program manager, said the state transportation agency is seeking improvements on a segment of I - 5 before they will agree to the environmental document for Kammerer Road. Specifically, they are seeking HOV, or carpool lanes and interchange improvements to mitigate the added traffic coming from new housing developments expected to cluster around Kammerer.

In comments submitted by Caltrans on the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) study, the agency said they want carpool lanes on the interstate between Hood-Franklin Road and Elk Grove Boulevard, and improvements to the Hood-Franklin interchange including the widening of the overpass. The CEQA document was submitted by the Capital Southeast Connector project, which Kammerer Road is part of, that is seeking to connect I - 5 in Elk Grove to U.S. Highway 50 in El Dorado Hills.

"We've gone through a variety of traffic analysis at Caltrans' request, at this time, we have not been able to find that those improvements are needed," Brewsey told the city council. "Right now we've been working since about April trying to convince them."

Brewsey added that Caltrans has concerns and that in their discussion, he said a separate memorandum of understanding was proposed to mitigate the the effects of additional traffic coming off Kammerer Road. Brewsey's proposed MOU, as he explained, would trigger Elk Grove-funded improvements to I - 5 once certain traffic congestion levels were met.   

"If that agreement moves, is able to move forward, we could have CEQA completed in December '18, and then NEPA (National Environmental Act) in spring, summer of 2019," he stated.  

In his presentation, Brewsey did not provide a cost estimate in current or future dollars for the Caltrans requested improvements. Currently, the city has a funding shortfall of $21 million on the Kammerer Road connector.  

During city council questioning of Brewsey, referring to maps shown during the presentation that showed several stop lights on Kammerer Road, Vice Mayor Darren Suen asked him about the possibility of roundabouts. 

"It's possible that roundabouts could be good in terms of the two-lane project, and then when we go to the four lanes, we'll probably go to the signals," Brewsey said. The entire Southeast Connector road project is expected to be completed on a piecemeal basis based largely on the availability federal, state, and local funding. 

During public comment, Elk Grove resident Randy Bekker questioned the feasibility of roundabouts.

"I find it kind of strange the roundabout question came up," he said. "If you go back in history, that was a [proposed] expressway, expressway from 50 to 99 to I - 5."

Bekker added "We are left with signal lights, you guys can do what you want with it to be honest with you, because some of us that are our age don't really care. The mess will be left to the 40 and 50 years olds, or the 30-year-olds to live with." 


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D.J. Blutarsky said...

Sounds like the City wants it both ways: when it comes to pleading for taxpayer handouts, the Connector is a congestion relief bypass that will link 50 to 99 to 5 and reduce greenhouse emissions. But when the agency responsible for those state freeways wants interchange improvements and lane expansion to handle that traffic, now all of a sudden the Connector won't generate those kind of vehicle trips to justify the requested improvements?

The reality is the Connector is being built to create value for the thousands of acres of undeveloped land along the Connector. The smart money scooped up that land at bargain basement agricultural prices and they can hardly wait to cash in with homes and strip centers. Caltrans isn't being fooled for a minute.

One thing, no make that two things, are for sure: The developers waiting to cash in on the Connector are not going to pay one iota towards the true impacts they will be creating. They'll pay their standard fees at the time building permits are issued, and the taxpayers at-large will be relied upon to pick up the rest of the cost.

The other thing you can bet on is, the head of Caltrans may soon be caving in, or "retiring to spend more time with family". So in the end, we have taxpayers footing the bill for the Development Alley, and Caltrans will soon be mysteriously accepting the local traffic numbers that were crunched.

Hurry up, you're gonna be late for work!

Eye on Elk Grove said...

D.J., you are the "Dirty Harry" of EGN! You always make my day with your comments.

And I will add that Capital SouthEast Connector JPA trying to sell this miracle road as an expressway is rich. What expressway has as many signal lights such as those being planned for this connector which, as you stated, no doubt will have rooftops everywhere you look?

Never mind the signal lights being synchronized. Hope the JPA doesn't use Elk Grove Blvd. as a synchronization model especially after the Costco opens. Commuters need to stay away from that intersection, that is for sure.

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