Pittsburg, a member of TRANSPLAN along with Antioch, Oakley and Brentwood, has been frustrated by the fact that while it has been paying its dues to the East Contra Costa Regional Fee and Financing Authority (ECCRFFA), the city has not seen any significant improvements to its roads as other cities have.
At the last meeting of TRANSPLAN members, representatives from the other cities decided to move forward on a lawsuit against Pittsburg, which broke away from the payment authority and tried to submit its own payment plan as a replacement. Brentwood Mayor Bob Taylor, who sits on the TRANSPLAN board, said until that meeting, Pittsburg had the ability to re-join ECCRFFA. The authority pays for projects such as the widening of Highway 4. TRANSPLAN members feel that Pittsburg’s withdrawal from the funding pool could make a negative impact on that project.
The decision to reject Pittsburg’s separate payment plan was approved by a 6-2 vote, Pittsburg City Councilman Ben Johnson and Planning Commissioner Bruce Olson voting no. Until last year, Pittsburg contributed $2.5 million annually to ECCRFFA. City officials have pleaded with the transportation committee in the past to give more priority to a bypass for Buchanan Road, which becomes heavily congested during rush hour.
“We think TRANSPLAN feels that they are right and Pittsburg is obviously in error in their judgment,” Taylor said. “Pittsburg feels they haven’t been granted their top priority, but then again, we’re all in this together, in unity. We all could come up with our own projects that we feel are more pertinent than the others.”
Taylor expects Pittsburg city officials to appeal to the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, feeling that TRANSPLAN hasn’t the power to file a lawsuit against the city. No court dates have been set, and as of Wednesday afternoon, Taylor had not received any correspondence from the CCTA, although he expected more information in the near future.
Pittsburg could still return and contribute to ECCRFFA, but now that a lawsuit will be filed, the process could be complex. “We gave Pittsburg the opportunity to come back,” Taylor said. “We would’ve moved their project up.”
TRANSPLAN documents show that the widening of Highway 4 – a $705.9 million project – is the committee’s top priority right now. While that does benefit Pittsburg, the first project exclusive to the city is 14th on the list, a widening of California Avenue. That project has a price tag of about $19.8 million. Work on the Pittsburg-Antioch Highway, a $13 million project is currently 12th on the list.