COMMISSION APPROVES MEASURE A BOND DEBT LIMIT INCREASE FOR VOTER CONSIDERATION
In 2002, Riverside County voters approved a 30-year renewal of the half-cent transportation sales tax known as Measure A. As required by state law, Measure A includes a limitation on the amount of bonded indebtedness that can be utilized to finance projects. That limit is currently $500 million and applies only to bonded indebtedness backed by Measure A revenues. Through the use of commercial paper and other debt financing, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (Commission) has borrowed approximately $180 million against Measure A to fund construction, and purchase right of way and habitat land as part of its responsibilities under the Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan.
The Commission is also moving forward with a number of ambitious projects including the State Route 91 Corridor Improvement Project (SR-91 CIP), an extension of Metrolink's commuter rail service, and regional arterial development in Western Riverside County and in the Coachella Valley. Without a bond limit increase, there is the danger that some projects might have to wait for funding. By late 2011, the number of major projects going to construction will stretch costs beyond the $500 million threshold. The Commission is proposing an increase in the bond limit to $975 million, which represents less than 25% of the expected $4.1 billion in Measure A revenue. A change to the debt limit requires voter approval since it
involves an amendment to the Measure A ordinance http://www.rctc.org/downloads/RenewedMeasureA_Plan.pdf.
The next step in the debt limit increase process is for the Riverside County Board of Supervisors to take formal action by August 6, 2010, in order to place the measure on the November 2, 2010 ballot.
COMMISSION SELECTS LOCALLY PREFERRED ALTERNATIVE FOR THE STATE ROUTE 91 CORRIDOR IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
Since 2007 the Commission, in partnership with Caltrans, the Federal Highway Administration, the Orange County Transportation Authority, the cities of Anaheim, Corona, Norco, and Riverside, has been working on the
SR-91 CIP. This $1.3 billion project could create upwards of 18,000 jobs in California's largest construction project since the east span of the Bay Bridge began construction earlier this decade. As the technical studies are nearing completion and sufficient information is now available for comparison of the project alternatives, the Commission has designated a locally preferred alternative (LPA) that includes the following features:
- Construction of an additional general purpose lane in each direction of SR-91 between SR-241 in Orange County and Pierce Street in the city of Riverside;
- Conversion of the existing SR-91 HOV lane to a tolled
express lane from the Orange/Riverside County line to Interstate 15 transitioning back to an HOV lane before
- Addition of a second tolled express lane on SR-91 from the Orange/Riverside County Line to I-15;
- Construction of direct tolled express lane connectors from eastbound SR-91 to southbound I-15 and from northbound I-15 to westbound SR-91. One tolled express lane in each direction on I-15 would extend south to Cajalco Road from SR-91; and
- Construction of direct tolled express lane connectors from eastbound SR-91 to northbound I-15 and from southbound I-15 to westbound SR-91. One tolled express lane in each direction on I-15 would extend north to Hidden Valley Parkway from SR-91.
The designation of the LPA does not minimize the legally prescribed environmental process as all alternatives will continue to be treated and presented at comparable levels of detail up until the preferred project alternative is selected. The Commission’s selection of a LPA in no way commits decision makers to approving the project, but is instead a way to provide more focused environmental review and increase public discussion related to the potential build alternatives. For additional information, the project website can be accessed at http://sr91project.info.