Sonora recently received more than $400,000 from the Tuolumne County Transportation Council for several proposed projects aimed at improving road conditions for motorists in the city.
The bulk of the money will be used for street-paving overlays on portions of Washington Street, Restano Way, Mono Way and Stewart Street, while the rest will go toward an entry monument sign and a designated bus stop, both near the intersection of Mono Way and Fir Drive.
“We just want to maintain a good, safe, smooth road surface for the motoring public at large,” said Darin Grossi, executive director of TCTC, a city-county panel overseeing transportation issues.
Sonora City Administrator Tim Miller submitted a letter requesting funding from TCTC for the projects, which the agency considered at its last meeting July 11.
The TCTC had $680,000 to allocate for transportation projects proposed by the city or county. The amount was more than usual because several previously planned projects, such as the $200,000 partial interchange at Peaceful Oak Road, received state funding instead, Grossi explained.
The city was given $350,000 for paving overlays on a roughly one-mile stretch of Washington Street between Stockton Road and Mariposa Street, as well as segments of Restano Way, Mono Way and Stewart Street.
It also received $50,000 to provide for an entry monument and additional landscaping at Mono Way and Fir Drive, which Miller noted in his letter “serves as a major entrance to the city.”
All three projects have no set start date, however, it is required that the money for the new bus stop on Mono Way be spent by February 2015, according to TCTC meeting documents.
The TCTC board chose to allocate an additional $35,000 for construction a bus stop and turnout at the eastern end of Mono Way near Fir Drive using money from a separate account for bus stop improvements funded through Proposition 1B.
Grossi said the TCTC board, which is made of Sonora City Council, Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors and Caltrans representatives and a member of the public, unanimously approved the requests but not before some debate.
“There was quite a bit of discussion particularly from the Board of Supervisors members about the many, many needs in Tuolumne County,” he said.
Grossi acknowledged concern over low traffic roads that are “out of shape,” but said roads with the highest traffic volumes are more of a priority with the limited funding available.
He noted that more than $527,000 has been allocated by TCTC to the county in the past year.
Sonora Councilman Bill Canning, who serves on the TCTC board, said he urged Miller to request the funding for the projects after hearing about the additional money.
He said funding sources like traffic mitigation fees, which are paid by developers and used for road maintenance projects, have mostly dried up with the downturn in the economy and the city needs to look for other ways to fund needed projects.
Canning said the amount of traffic funneled into the county through Washington Street from Highway 108 made the proposed paving overlay project worthwhile to area residents outside of the city limits as well.
“We have so many roads in the city that need repair, but this was a good opportunity for everyone. Everybody uses that road,” he said.