Transportation Commission make right call on spending

Last week, our Local Transportation Commission made a difficult decision regarding $1 million of unexpected transportation funds. Caltrans District 1's late notification of this fund availability, and an April 2 deadline for submitting the paperwork, necessitated an immediate decision (andquot;No dollars for U.S. 199 enviro study,andquot; April 3).

Choosing between two options - funding initiation of Caltrans' environmental documentation work for five sites on U.S. Hwy. 199 or approving a recommendation from the LTC's Technical Advisory Committee for funding much-needed repair/upgrade of our deteriorating local road infrastructure - commissioners reluctantly concluded that investing in achievable local road projects, with a near-term impact on our daily lives, was a better use for the money.

County Supervisor Mike Sullivan, in strong support of the Hwy. 199 option, made a case for investment in the Caltrans project.Unfortunately, when the Caltrans representative failed to make a convincing argument that andquot;priming the pumpandquot; on the Hwy. 199 project had a good chance of andquot;paying off,andquot; Sullivan's motion failed for want of a andquot;secondandquot; - indicating that other commissioners were skeptical of the Caltrans option.

Faced with the urgent need to make a decision, and the understandable reluctance of most commissioners to have their names on a motion for their Technical Advisory Committee's recommendation and against dedicating these particular funds to Hwy. 199, Supervisor McClure finally stepped in to make the necessary motion - resulting in a 4-1 vote to approve it.

Undoubtedly, adverse reaction will follow from local economic development andquot;boosters.andquot; However, critics should realize that, while the LTC remains committed to Hwy.199 improvement, Caltrans must demonstrate a more effective, imaginative and aggressive approach to earn community support.Energies at this point are better spent on andquot;lighting a fire underandquot; Caltrans, rather than on criticizing LTC commissioners for what was an extremely difficult decision.

Bill Lonsdale

Crescent City