By Tim Hunt
Gold-plating Stanley BoulevardUploaded: Apr 24, 2012
The Stanley Boulevard upgrade demonstrates what happens when some government agencies simply have too much money.
Surprisingly, there's no federal stimulus funding in the $14.5 million project that is due to be completed in the fall. The road is being repaved and the decades-old bike path already has been greatly upgraded.
The funding sources were local streets and roads money from the county half-cent sales tax and the bridge tolls plus grants from the Bay Area air board and the Alameda County StopWaste organization (the poster child for grossly over-funded government agencies).
Incidentally, Pleasanton is among the government agencies that have bought in to the transportation agency's plan to double the tax to 1 cent and make it permanent.
There's an argument for increasing the tax to increase the transportation improvements, but, in Alameda County, that means lots of money down the transit agency operating fund rat holes such as AC Transit. To spread the money around the county and develop a plan that can get widespread support (it takes a two-thirds majority to pass) results in operating subsidies.
Of course, the Livermore Valley deserves and needs more money when you consider that it is the goods movement corridor along I-580 for much of the Bay Area (that's government speak for 18-wheelers carrying containers as well as the distribution tractor-trailers serving Bay Area retailers).
It's critical to the Port of Oakland as well as the retailers stocking many Bay Area locations (Safeway as well as other retailers, have major distribution facilities in Tracy).
Yet, it's taken way too many bites at the ballot box for I-580 to be expandedit should have been the top county priority for years given its economic importance.
Turning back to Stanley Boulevard, it's a positive that so many agencies partnered on a projectthat's unusual for government where the tendency of bureaucrats and politicians is to put funds in tightly regulated pots.
The air board contributed money for the heavily landscaped bicycle lane upgradea project that done to a basic level makes sense.
Pulling recycled water lines from Isabel Avenue/Highway 84 makes good use of a resource for a questionable purposeto landscape a highway as if it's a prime entry to a community. With the benches, state-of-the-art lighting, the county will have an elegant, expensive roadway coupled with a bike and pedestrian path.
You might ask why the trash board has expanded its reach to include Bay-friendly storm drainsit's a symptom of how much money is in that agency.
I have no debate with improving the road as well as removing the unused railroad tracks that banged automobile suspensions and were a hazard to bicyclists.
A big portion of the expense, that has yet to finished, is putting all of the utilities underground. That certainly will help radio signals along westbound Stanley, although to neighborhoods that still have overhead power lines, will seem like a questionable priority.
This is a classic case of when a compact Chevy will suffice, the agencies instead collaborated to produce a Cadillac limo.