Gas tax funds millions for new 680-4 interchange
Upgrades to the Interstate Highway 680/state Highway 4 interchange in Pacheco, considered a bottleneck for traffic in Contra Costa County, are closer to reality after the California Transportation Commission approved $34 million in funding for improvements.
“I’ve literally been working on this project since day one” of becoming an assemblyman in January 2017, Tim Grayson, D-Concord, said Monday:
“I brought that project with me when I moved up to the capital.”
Grayson said he worked with the California Transportation Commission, Caltrans and the Contra Costa Transportation Authority to secure the funding needed to get the project started.
The interchange upgrade money, plus funding for 12 other Bay Area transit projects — more than $660 million in all — were part of three CTC’s competitive statewide programs established by Senate Bill 1, which went into effect in November, funded by a new gas tax.
The Highway 680/Highway 4 funding, approved by the CTC last Wednesday, comes about two and a half years after a group of politicians, union leaders and transportation officials gathered in a parking lot near the interchange to decry the proposed cut of more than $750 million from planned transportation projects statewide.
At that time, decreasing gas prices led to a corresponding decrease in gas tax revenues, prompting state transportation leaders to propose a 38 percent decrease in funding for the state’s five-year transportation project plan.
So what changed to make that funding a reality? SB 1, the 10-year, $52 billion tax package to fund hundreds of transportation projects statewide.
The work for the interchange renovations, which will include modifications to accommodate express lanes on Highway 680 through the area, is about $78 million.
Randy Iwasaki, executive director of the CCTA, said about $44.3 million from other funding sources was already in hand. If all goes well, he said, work on the improvements could begin in the fall.
“This is a regional priority project that will be eligible for more funding if voters approve Regional Measure 3 next month,” said John Goodwin, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which oversees transportation planning and financing in the nine-county Bay Area.
The measure would raise money through higher tolls for using the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges.
Even though a proposed repeal of SB 1 will be on the November election ballot, Iwasaki said the $34 million for the interchange project is secure.
The Highway 680/4 interchange, first built in the 1960s, was built for traffic levels of that era, Goodwin said, but the area’s housing growth both in eastern Contra Costa and southern Solano counties have helped to make it a weak link in the regional commute.
Other projects funded by the CTC’s Local Partnership Program, one of the three statewide competitive programs created by SB 1, include $20 million for San Mateo County agencies to extend express lanes on U.S. Highway 101.
There is also $17 million for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to improve the Highway 101 and state Highway 237 interchanges with Mathilda Avenue; $15 million for Alameda-Contra Costa Transit to buy hybrid buses; $7 million for improvements to Jefferson Street in San Francisco; and $3 million to upgrade Rumrill Boulevard in San Pablo.