Green light for Highway 12 improvements

Posted on May 15, 2013 by Sonoma Valley Sun

The Highway 12 improvement project in the Springs will get county funding after all, the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors decided Tuesday after learning how the state will redistribute money from the now-defunct redevelopment agency system.

The board had pledged to use that money, tabbed at $24.5 million over the next five years, to complete the priority projects under the old system. The Springs road and sidewalk project, along with Santa Rosa’s Roseland development, heads that list.

“There’s light at the end of the tunnel,” said Supervisor Susan Gorin of the long-delayed project. “It looks like we might have a way forward.”

Under the redistribution plan, the county is due about $30 million over the next five years. About $24.4 million would flow to the general fund and about $5.6 million would go to other county agencies.

On Tuesday, supervisors said they would stand by a promise to direct the redevelopment windfall from the general fund to the Sonoma Valley project and others.

While there will be a call to spend the general fund money on other things, said Supervisor Efren Carrillo, “We’re reiterating the importance of carrying out these projects.”

About $11 million of the five-year funding for the Sonoma Valley project will be available when the new fiscal year starts July 1.

The master plan calls for sidewalks, streetlights and safety enhancements to the section of Highway 12 from Boyes Boulevard north to Agua Caliente Road.

Phase one of the project, between Boyes Boulevard and Encinas Avenue to the south, was completed in 2010. The county sold $15 million in bonds in 2008 to fund both phases, but the state disallowed all agreements as part of the dismantling of the statewide redevelopment system.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit continues in which the county seeks up to $11.7 million from the state for canceling project contracts and withholding dedicated funds.