Planned Capital Connector gets finance plan approved

By: Staff report
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The Capital SouthEast Connector moved closer to becoming a reality when the project’s Joint Powers Authority board of directors adopted an initial Plan of Finance and Project Design Guidelines on Friday.

The planned 35-mile Connector will connect Interstate 5 south of Elk Grove to Highway 50 in El Dorado County just east of El Dorado Hills.

The Plan of Finance outlines the project’s anticipated costs, proposed phasing, and potential funding and financing strategies. The project’s total cost is estimated at $456 million.

Of that total, $118 million was provided through a half-cent sales-tax approved in 2004 by 75 percent of Sacramento County voters. The balance will need to be secured through a variety of potential sources, including state, federal and local funds, according to a press release issued by the JPA.

The finance plan also indicates that the project will likely be constructed in two major phases. The first phase, envisioned to be completed between 2018 and 2023 and estimated to cost $315 million, would include construction of a Connector “backbone” that will provide an improved level of service throughout the entire length of the roadway. This initial phase would include four continuous lanes, expanded at-grade intersections at all major access points, a continuous path for pedestrians, bicyclists and equestrians, and right-of-way preservation for the project’s full build out including future interchanges.

The project’s second phase includes interchanges and additional lanes in some segments, and would be completed over the next 10 years to 20 years as additional funding is made available and demand necessitates additional improvements.

The plan does not obligate contributing agencies or jurisdictions to any specific level of funding but provides a general framework for the types of funds that might be available to develop the project.

“The finance plan is our roadmap for implementing the project. Its approval was critical in moving us closer to making the Connector a reality, and bringing its economic-development and congestion-relief benefits as soon as possible to the region’s residents and workers,” said Tom Zlotkowski, executive director of the Connector JPA.

The Project Design Guidelines will help ensure consistent planning and design of the Connector across the five JPA jurisdictions – Sacramento County, El Dorado County, and the cities of Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova and Folsom – so that it blends with communities on the alignment, integrates and provides efficiency for multiple forms of travel, incorporates sustainability concepts and is developed cost effectively.

Representatives of the JPA jurisdictions and numerous other community stakeholders helped to shape the design guidelines, which will be updated periodically as the Connector is developed.

“The design guidelines provide an important foundation for ensuring that the Connector has a consistent look and feel over its entire length, and that it operates efficiently for a variety of travel modes,” said Zlotkowski.

With approval of the finance plan and design guidelines, the JPA jurisdictions now will consider how to incorporate the Connector into their respective general plans, a process expected to be completed over the next six months.

A recent economic impact study projected that construction of the Connector will create more than 5,400 new full-time jobs, $310 million in new labor income, $831 million in new regional economic output and more than $23 million in new indirect business tax revenue. Over 20 years, the Connector is expected to create more than 25,000 total new direct and indirect jobs, and generate $2.5 billion in new economic output and $182 million in new indirect business tax revenue.

Reduced congestion and travel delays will save residents and workers $11.7 million annually by 2045, according to the JPA.