By David Glass
Mayor of Petaluma
Special to Petaluma Patch
The East Washington Freeway improvement is a project that has been a long time in coming. Through the years there have been many that have contributed to this project becoming a reality.
Janice Cader Thompson provided leadership at a time when the town bickered over what to do first. Would it be East Washington or Rainier? At the end of the day it was East Washington that would prove to be achievable first, and I am happy that we were able to achieve the possible.
Rainier continues to be a vision for the community and as Mayor I did provide the final verbal statements that convinced JP Morgan Chase to fund more than 11 million dollars for that project.
That money came to Petaluma just before the end of redevelopment financing.
Creating two phases for Rainier, an under crossing that connects the east and west side and a freeway interchange makes it more likely that someday something will be accomplished to complete part or all of that project. The component approach was the result of creative thinking by city staff members Vince Morango, Larry Zimmer and Sue Lackey and it was approved by the Petaluma City Council , the Sonoma County Transportation Authority and Cal Trans while there was a Progressive environmental majority and I was Petaluma's Director at SCTA.
In 2009 Mayor Pam Torliatt and city staff led by City Manager John Brown, Morango, Lackey and others identified a miscalculation of Measure M funds that resulted in Petaluma getting the funds necessary to complete the East Washington Project. John Maitland and Suzanne Smith at SCTA were extremely helpful in working through a multitude of complex issues to deliver this project for Petaluma. The East Washington Project represents a $28 million expenditure of public funds. Petaluma's matching share is $4 million. Our funding was supposed to come from redevelopment funds which the State of California confiscated with the end of redevelopment.
The funding was still available because the city council did not unnecessarily grant traffic mitigation funding rebates to the developers for projects. Today Petaluman's are experiencing very real and challenging traffic impacts in our community from new development. It is not business friendly to create traffic burdens without obtaining the necessary funding for traffic relief. That is why I have been at the forefront of encouraging business with such projects as our downtown revitalization while continuing to advocate for and collect the fees necessary to provide the relief we need. Those fees are important. They are what allows us to complete any project. Today the most vivid example is the East Washington project.
In addition to traffic relief hundreds of jobs have been provided with the traffic relief that has been provided with monies collected from impact fees. The East Washington Project has been a long time in the coming. No longer will drivers need to turn left to go right when accessing the northbound on ramp. What I have learned is that in politics like sports it is always what have you done for me lately. So with a congratulations to all involved and a job well done it is time to move on to the next project and continue to do the best we can with each endeavor for our community.
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