With just a few weeks left before the special election on Measure L, the following offers some historical background and factual information regarding the proposed road improvements that would come from the passage of Measure L.
To start, we need to go back 25 years, when the land at the west end of Balfour Road was originally within Brentwood’s sphere of influence and was in the City’s previous general plans to eventually be built upon. High schools and shopping centers were planned on the Brentwood side with golf courses and hospitals on the Antioch side, all with the expectation that in the next several years the rest of the homes and road improvements would be continued.
Unfortunately counties, and cities don’t always see eye to eye. In fact, in August 2000, there was a countywide action taken by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, not just to our boundaries to the west, but to other areas around Contra Costa County. We had some county supervisors that wanted to be the controllers of more land so they would to be able to control the growth instead of the individual cities and develop projects such as “The Lakes” at the other end of Balfour Road, with no improvements to Balfour until 10 years later.
So what happened was that schools, shopping centers, golf courses and hospitals get built and then all of sudden, they are located at the edge of town and the rest of the growth never came. Then the development of Roddy Ranch failed to materialize, shopping centers went through foreclosures and two schools got built on a dead-end road. The City of Brentwood had no legal authority to stop it or change anything.
Now you know why American Avenue dead ends at the top of the hill and Balfour goes from a four-lane divided highway to a very dangerous two-lane road with zero shoulders and a big hump in the middle.
And unfortunately over the last several years we’ve had way too many accidents on that end of Balfour Road.
Facts on Measure L
One of the major benefits of Measure L is that part of the development agreement specifies that Balfour will finally get its much needed safety improvements, including the building of the American Avenue extension back to Balfour close to where the hump is, which will disappear with the road improvements.
The good news is that both the American Avenue and Balfour Road extensions will be built to the City of Brentwood’s current road specifications which include bike lanes – all done with no city or taxpayer dollars.
The beauty of this, for any of you who have ever had to drop off your child at Heritage or Adams and realized that for three blocks, there are hundreds of cars in the left-hand lane – while the right hand lane remains empty – there will be a solution!
When Balfour is widened to four lanes, to the new American Avenue extension, a percentage of the cars who had to turn left at the current American Avenue will now have the pleasure of going straight and then turning left at the next intersection, the new American Avenue extension.
Now let’s talk about heading north towards Sand Creek Road, the extension to Kaiser, which is being built by Black Hawk/Nunn, the authors of Measure L. The measure includes building the extension of Hillcrest Avenue from where it is currently being extended in the City of Antioch to come over the hill and meet up with Balfour at approximately halfway between the current American Avenue and the extension.
Because of the development currently happening in Antioch to the north of this land, the new Sand Creek Road is in the first phase of development plans. Hopefully within the next three to four years, if we continue with our smart growth plans, we will be able to drive from The Streets of Brentwood all the way to Kaiser on the new Sand Creek Road or turn left on the new Hillcrest extension and go south to Balfour or turn right and go north to Lone tree way.
I have heard concerns questioning whether the developer will do what they say and the agreement states that American Avenue and phase one of the Balfour Road infrastructure must be in place prior to being able to sell any new homes.
This means the developer has to outlay tens of millions of dollars before they have an opportunity to sell one home!
Sounds like a solid commitment to me.