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Commission ponders roads funding

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

Del Norte County's Local Commission meets today to discuss funding a number of road projects.

Based on input from Crescent City, Del Norte County and Redwood Coast Transit in February, the commission has developed its list of Regional Transportation Improvement Program funding augmentation projects.

The document, according to information in the commission's agenda packet, "will secure $6,931,000" for local projects.

But the intricacies of funding are what will be up for discussion.

The commission can use 5 percent of its State Transportation Improvement Program money for planning, programming and monitoring. The funding is intended to improve project delivery and efficiency.

One project for which funds are allocated is State Hwy. 197.

Regarding work needed there, Caltrans District 1 Director Charlie Fielder told county Supervisor Mike Sullivan in February that if the local commission would consider reserving $540,000 of its state program money to pay for work on Hwy. 197, Caltrans could program $1 million each for two separate locations.

Those locations represent areas where road improvements must be done if the road is to meet federal Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982 standards.

Its lack of compliance prohibits larger trucks from using the road, which impacts local prices.

The offer would help the area by correcting part of the problem that's hampered the movement and sale of goods here for decades, but could hurt Del Norte County roads, according to county Community Development department Director Ernie Perry.

"Caltrans' work is to move folks through the area on state roadways," he said at the commission's Technical Advisory Committee meeting last week.

His concern is that local roads will not be repaired if the state funds are used on the state highway system before a funding plan is developed.

That plan is being worked on, but is not completed yet.

The possibility of obtaining money through the recently passed Transportation Infrastructure Bond, Proposition 1B, is also up for discussion.

The state's Transportation Commission recently denied some of those funds to the Willits Bypass project in Humboldt County.

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