Currently, the three-way intersection of the Highway 4 Bypass and Sand Creek Road in Brentwood is moderated by traffic lights, causing gridlock in the morning and afternoon. Money from the California Department of Transportation’s Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA) would turn the intersection into an interchange, much like the Bypass exits for Laurel Road and Lone Tree Way. The funds would also extend the highway to four lanes – two in each direction – south to the intersection at Balfour Road.
The project stands a good chance of receiving the thumbs-up from the state. According to a letter from Bimla Rhinehart, the Department of Transportation’s executive director, the Sand Creek Road interchange is on the top of the list of Tier 1 projects submitted from around Northern California for CMIA money.
Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor noted that if the department OKs the Bypass improvements, the project could be put out to bid as early as July. Construction might start as early as October and take 24 to 36 months to finish.
“We’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll remain high on their list,” said Dale Dennis, program manager for the State Route 4 Bypass Authority. “We think this will help tremendously because there’s so much traffic that gets off at Sand Creek. We think if we can get an interchange there, that should eliminate most of the congestion in the corridor, if not all of it.”
The department will decide which projects to fund at its June 22 board meeting in Long Beach.
Following the local project on the CMIA list is a bypass around the city of Lincoln on Route 65 in Placer County, construction on Highway 50 in El Dorado County and improvements to the Yerba Buena interchange on the Capitol Expressway in San Jose.
The only other project from Contra Costa County on the list is the addition of lanes on Interstate 680 from Crow Canyon Road in San Ramon to Sycamore Valley Road in Danville, but that might not be consistent with guidelines for the granting of CMIA dollars.
Taylor plans to attend the June 22 meeting and lobby for the Sand Creek Road interchange project. “We have a huge chance of getting these funds,” Taylor said. “This is a phenomenal happening for Brentwood.”
Brian Kalinowski, an Antioch city councilman and chairman of the regional transportation board TRANSPLAN, noted at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that this could be a major positive for not only Brentwood, but all of East County – a notion with which Brentwood’s mayor agrees.
“It will tie right in with eBART getting in at Hillcrest,” Taylor said. “All this happening at the same time will really improve the quality of life in far East County.”
This is the second time in the last few years that the Bypass Authority has tried to secure money for the interchange project. Dennis noted that the authority has applied for federal stimulus money, but while the Sand Creek interchange project qualified for the state’s priority list, it didn’t make the cut at the federal level.
One possible drawback of the project could be an increase in traffic congestion at the intersection of Balfour Road and the Bypass, but Dennis feels that Balfour is a large enough intersection to handle it. He believes the Bypass/Sand Creek interchange is one of the more “shovel-ready” projects proposed to the Department of Transportation and stands a good chance of receiving the state money.
“Our projects are probably the most ready of all the most projects that were submitted,” said Dennis. “We’re high on the list because we’re well-positioned to actually build the project.”