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Vasco Road safety panel eyes future of winding Vasco Road

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  • 3/8 Contra Costa Times
    Published Saturday, March 8, 2008, by the Contra Costa Times Vasco Road panel eyes future By Hilary Costa Staff Writer With the number of accidents on Vasco
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2008
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      Published Saturday, March 8, 2008, by the Contra Costa Times

      Vasco Road panel eyes future

      By Hilary Costa
      Staff Writer

      With the number of accidents on Vasco Road down dramatically in 2007
      from past years, members of the Vasco Road Safety Task Force are
      broadening their scope, looking at the long-range future of the
      winding road that connects Brentwood and Livermore.

      The task force met Friday and heard from transportation consultant
      Bill Gray on what steps need to be taken to accomplish the long-term
      goal of getting certain Vasco Road improvements on the radar of the
      regional transportation commissions that can secure funding.

      The nearer-term, safety-oriented projects of installing solid median
      barriers and widening the road are already on the Metropolitan
      Transportation Commission's horizon.

      But looking further out, Gray presented a map that showed a realigned
      Vasco Road that connects to State Route 84 at Interstate 580, about
      5 miles west of where Vasco currently ties into 580. The realigned
      Vasco Road would eventually become State Route 84.

      The task force gave its informal consent to spend excess money from a
      $14 million federal grant that was awarded to study another far East
      County roadway, Byron Highway, and define the parameters of the Vasco
      project.

      Task force member and Contra Costa Supervisor Mary Piepho said she
      expected formal approval to do the study to come in the next few
      weeks. The results will become the tool needed, Piepho said, to go
      to the regional transportation agencies, including the Contra Costa
      Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation
      Commission, that can get the project funded.

      Those involved know there is likely to be strong political opposition
      to the idea, with people fearing it would spur growth and change
      Contra Costa's current urban limit line. San Ramon City Councilman
      and Contra Costa Transportation Authority Chairman David Hudson
      said cities in Alameda County will likely protest because of the
      possibility that a wider Vasco will put additional commuters on
      Highway 580.

      "There are a lot of roadblocks in front of us -- pun intended,"
      Piepho said.

      She added that the key to garnering support and, later, funding,
      would be to find a way to build the road without incurring some of
      those repercussions.

      The task force also brought up the issue of continuing to ensure
      driver safety on Vasco Road, which is commonly known as one of the
      most treacherous in the East Bay. The decrease in accidents is
      attributed to increased enforcement by Livermore and Brentwood
      police, which have been paid for by a public safety grant.

      "You can pretty much guarantee there's going to be someone out there
      watching and enforcing the speed laws," said Lt. Ben Tolero of the
      Brentwood Police Department.

      But the grant will expire in June, and in a sort of Catch-22
      situation, it has become more difficult to secure future funding
      because of the now-lowered accident rate.

      Carolina Salazar, a representative with state Sen. Tom Torlakson,
      said her office is looking into other funding sources to keep patrols
      up.

      The Vasco task force will hold its next meeting in July.

      Reach Hilary Costa at 925-779-7139 or hcosta@...
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