In this edition of my community blog, I am providing updates (and good news!) on several items we are working on here at the city.
RAIL SAFETY/QUIET ZONES
Last year the state legislature passed a bill called SB 1, which increased the gas tax effective January 1, 2018. Those new revenues go to fixing/improving a number of major transportation infrastructure pieces around the state, including roads, public transit systems, goods movement/rail, and more. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) announced that they would work to push some funding out the door immediately, and announced that there would be some initial funding for three investment programs. One of those programs was the Trade Corridor Enhancement Program (TCEP).
As your representative to the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC), I fight on behalf of our city to get funding for transportation projects from sources that can help spare Emeryville taxpayers additional out-of-pocket cost. When I reviewed the program criteria and guidelines for the TCEP at ACTC in the fall, I asked city staff and my council colleagues to agenda the item for study at one of our December council meetings. With the unanimous support of our city council, we moved quickly to complete an application for TCEP funds to help deliver at-grade rail crossing safety improvements that are part of our Capital Improvement Plan (CIP). This project has been in the plan for a long time but has never had the funding to be built. Here is a summary of that CIP item:
In January we reached out to the community to help us demonstrate the local interest in this project to the state. Your response and support was incredible and it really made our application complete. Click here to view our application to the state CTC in its entirety.
On Thursday I attended the regular ACTC meeting, where it was announced that the state had just released the initial grant recipients for all three of its new funding programs. I am very happy to report that Emeryville was recommended as one of the grant winners! The final approval takes place on May 16th but ACTC staff expect the recommendation will be final by then. The staff at ACTC congratulated our city and staff and told the rest of the Commission that our resident letter supporting our application really helped us stand out! Thank you to everyone who took the time to send emails in support of the project – together we have been recommended for a $4.2M grant to bring rail safety improvements and quiet zones to Emeryville! The State will finalize the awards in about two weeks. This leaves about $2.2M of gap funding for the project as grants can only be used to cover 70% of the funding. I am happy to report that ACTC staff are now working with me to bring forward a budget update for 2017-2018 that will include a county grant to fund the balance of the project. This means that we will have 100% of the funding for the at-grade crossing improvements without any cost to Emeryville! Thank you to everyone who helped us make this outcome possible. It is important to remind everyone that funding will come to us later this year and then the project still needs to go through the regular design and environmental review processes and be formally approved by the railroad before construction can begin. This could mean it still may be a few years before we have the system in place due to the internal processes at UPRR, but we now have state funding and the county’s support, which should help move the process along. You can view a partial list of awardees here:
SOUTH BAYFRONT BRIDGE
The City has been working diligently to complete all necessary agreements with Union Pacific Railroad so that we can begin construction on the South Bayfront Bridge that will connect the east end of Ohlone Way at Bay Street with 53rd and Horton Streets via a bicycle/pedestrian bridge. We are in the process of acquiring a narrow parcel of land from the railroad necessary to make construction cost-effective for the city. Our hope is that we will have negotiated all related construction terms within the next 6 months so that we can put the project out to bid and begin construction. The project is part of a larger vision of creating connectivity for our community and one we at city hall are excited to break ground on.
PARKING MANAGEMENT PROGRESS
Many of you are aware that the city has undertaken creation of a parking management study and that staff and consultants have put forth a draft proposal for how the city might regulate parking citywide. The project is funded with a grant from ACTC to help us regulate the number of people who drive to and park in Emeryville, and includes over $930,000 to install meters in certain parts of the city. Get all the info you need on the plan here.
Some residents have contacted me with concerns about a couple of the components to the proposal. The most recent proposal from staff and the consultants can be viewed here. I would like to take this opportunity to assure everyone that we are not done collecting input. In fact, the Planning Commission will consider certain elements of the proposal in May and the City Council will do a study session on the proposal in late June. We will not make any decisions until July or later. I will be holding listening sessions at HOAs or Apartment Buildings that contact me and request such an opportunity. Please direct your inquiry for such a meeting through your HOA President or Board Member to prevent duplicate meetings.
There are several ballot measures coming before voters on June 5th. Its important that voters understand what each of them do and how they impact you. You may hear about a Sales Tax or a Bridge Toll, but neither of those are being proposed by the city. The only item we have on the ballot is Measure C, which deals with Affordable Housing in our community. I will discuss ballot measures in the upcoming post.
Have a great month and Happy May Day!