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South Placer panel nixes Lincoln Bypass funding fix

By: Gus Thomson Journal Staff Writer
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Caltrans has failed in a bid for an $8 million transfusion of local funds to stave off a construction halt on the Lincoln Bypass. A work stoppage on the $325 million project could now take place within days, Executive Director Celia McAdam told South Placer Regional Transportation Authority board members Tuesday. Caltrans had asked the authority to advance funding from regionally collected development fees to keep work on the bypass project moving ahead. The South Placer transportation authority has $8 million in funding that could have been freed but directors, with McAdam’s support, decided against a move that would have shored up funding for a maximum of 60 days. Caltrans’ request came days after the Pooled Money Investment Board – the state panel that oversees loans for infrastructure projects – shut off financing to hundreds of projects around the state in the face of the state’s budget crisis. Lincoln Councilman Tom Cosgrove, a long-time bypass advocate, described the decision to shut down infrastructure projects as “unbelievable.” He blamed legislators and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for failing to act on an increasing budget deficit. Shutting down the bypass project is expected to add an additional $10 million to its cost when work resumes again, while delaying completion by another year, McAdam said. Cosgrove said that the authority shouldn’t risk having its cash flow diminished by forwarding funding to the state. McAdam said that there was no guarantee after the 60 days of funding that Caltrans would either continue the work or make up the costs incurred through the use of local developer fees. The $8 million would have replaced bond proceeds and state funding that is no longer available to make monthly progress payments to the construction contractor. The immediate impact will be the loss of 60 to 60 jobs, McAdam said. The authority is now paying $1 million a month as part of the cooperative agreement with the state on the bypass. The state’s budget crisis will not be felt on the nearby Interstate 80 bottleneck project through Roseville. McAdam said that project has sufficient federal earmark funding to keep the project moving forward. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.