Shortcut toll road to Tahoe through Elk Grove approved, will help fund zoo project

Faced with the daunting task of issuing bonds in a market susceptible to higher interest rates, the city of Elk Grove, with the blessing ...

Faced with the daunting task of issuing bonds in a market susceptible to higher interest rates, the city of Elk Grove, with the blessing of the Southeast Connector Project, CalTrans, and Sacramento Area Council of Governments, will proceed with a toll road on the western end of the long-delayed Southeast Connector Expressway.

The toll booths that will collect the fares, which will initially be staffed by Elk Grove Parking Authority employees, will be installed where Interstate 5 meets the Southeast connector on the southwest portion of Elk Grove (see map below). The toll road will be promoted as a shortcut for northbound motorists on Interstate 5 traveling to South Lake Tahoe.

"Our commissioned feasibility study shows drivers are willing to pay three dollars and truckers five dollars to take the shortcut to connect to Folsom and U.S. 50 rather than going through downtown Sacramento," Elk Grove city and parking authority manager Jayson Behrman said when announcing the plan. "This is an excellent way for the city to increase revenues without having to ask Elk Grove residents for more sales taxes or higher Mello Roos rates."

The city will share toll revenues with the Southeast Connector Joints Power Authority. Elk Grove will pay for the construction of the booths, staffing, and maintenance and will collect 75 percent of the tolls. The balance will go to the Southeast Connector, which will use the proceeds to pay off debt incurred to extend the expressway from Highway 99 to Interstate 5. 

Traffic counts from CalTrans show about 1,000,000 vehicles annually travel northbound on Interstate 5 through the region with South Lake Tahoe as their destination. Based on these counts, which do not include truck tolls, at least $3 million will be generated annually, of which $2.25 million will go to Elk Grove.  

"The toll booth is the perfect way to generate the extra funds needed to complete the connector," Southeast Connector general manager Derek Minema said. "This is a real shot-in-the-arm for the connector project." 

Combined with last year's Elk Grove first-in-California municipal income tax, which Gov. Newsome signed into law last week, the city has an additional $32 million annually for the zoo project. Income tax deductions will start on January 1, 2025.

The city plans to use the proceeds to help pay interest on the $114 million bond it will issue for the first phase of the relocated Sacramento Zoo. Toll revenues combined with the city income tax, is expected to easily finance bond interest payments for the four phases of zoo construction. 

Supervisor Hume to be honored

Given his status as Elk Grove's longest-serving city council member, his years of work on the Southeast Connector Expressway project, and his opening more development along the expressway, the toll booth and segment of the connector between Interstate 5 and Highway 99 will be named in honor of Sacramento County Supervisor Pat Hume. The first-term supervisor couldn't be reached for comment, but an assistant paraphrased the supervisor's reaction to the honor, who said he was as happy as a pig in mud.  

Additionally, in a sign of Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allan's often touted regional partnerships and her personal friendships with high-level officials, any extra tolls generated beyond the budget will build an anteater pavilion during the first phase of zoo construction. Congressman Ami Beri (D - Calif.), a close political ally of Singh-Allan and an alumnus of the University of California-Irvine, home of the fighting Anteaters, will give matching funds from his political action committee, Beri's Urban Renewal Project, known as BURP. 

Based on the Elk Grove toll plan results, Folsom is also exploring a toll segment on the north end of the connector road. While Elk Grove will use its toll proceeds to fund the zoo project, Folsom needs the cash to dig out of a budget deficit.  

FastTrack devices will eventually replace the toll booths. Construction on the toll booths starts immediately and will open for operations on Friday, June 13, 2025.

The only unanswered question is what costume Supervisor Pat Hume will wear to the grand opening festivities next year (see image below map).   


Supervisor Pat Hume reportedly purchased this vintage Golden Gate toll uniform
for next year's Friday, June 13 grand opening festivities. 

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Juan Trippe said...

This scheme is just plausible enough that someone at city hall may just have considered this.

Randy Bekker said...

As the southeast corridor that ties 50-99-I5 a vision of many decades. Toll charges is a great idea as a use tax paying for convenience. It’s time toll roads were introduced in the region. Why should people pay for expansion if they are not using or why should their tax dollars be used. Great idea to help pay for the state of the art MAGA Zoo that would make San Diego zoo look like a petting zoo. I look forward to the closing of additional 100 acres by COB today that would expand the Zoo to 200 acres that would make it like Jurassic Park.

Peter Peachfuzz said...

Woah, I think we have a new name for the Zoo - “MAGA zoo!”

Sid Vicious said...

Hey, be careful Golden Skillet, given how much Mayor Bobbie listens and loves all the policies pushed by the Old Town bigots, they'll probably slap the MAGA label on the zoo!

Eye on Elk Grove said...

According to Randy Bekker: The Elk Grove Zoo is going to make the San Diego Zoo look like a petting zoo. Really?

Does that mean that Elk Grove is going to get the pandas instead of San Diego? Since Mayor BSA is "everyone's friend," maybe she can give Xi Jinping a call!

Reggi said...

Is the zoo even necessary

Brubaker said...

I also understand that Tesla and other electric vehicles will be exempt from the toll.

Sid Vicious said...

If Hume wore that uniform, it would be perfect. He'll be the MAGA storm trooper for the MAGA zoo!

BOBBYB said...

Really?,?? Another reason to tax,,after it's paietd for the zoo..what will they use next excuse to tax.this is so unbelievable that every step we take,every breath of air we breath taxed..yet same problems still exist.

BOBBYB said...

Yet another tax, The future is taxation on toll roads, We are text when we breathe, We are text every step we take, No matter what and and if there's a better way. Are so called government officials will find another way to take a dollar out of our pocket. Which leads me to believe, That our freedoms are being eroded quickly. It is up to us how we spend our dollar bill. Not them

naednek said...

It's Newsom, not Newsome

Art Moore said...

Elk Grove just implemented the 1 cent sales tax increase to end our "homeless problem". Now with a budget of $350,000,000. Yes 350 million dollars, they want to raise taxes again. Sounds like a City Council that's drunk w/power and lusts to spend other people's money.. Especially as prices continue to go up and gas is nearly $6 a gallon. You folks should be ashamed..

Steve L said...

You go, Art!!

tim723 said...

Stumbled across this article out of season and it had me going..thank goodness its an April fools article 😂

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