The Highland City Council approved, on Tuesday, Sept. 24, an updated cooperative agreement with San Bernardino County Transit Authority (SBCTA) for the use of Measure I funds for the construction and landscape phases of a project to widen and upgrade the State Route 210 interchange at Base Line.
As reported to the council by City Engineer Ernest Wong, the new agreement is one of six (one for each phase of the project) and reflects updated cost estimates for the project.
The new agreement estimates total cost for the project at $34,931,898 with the city’s share of approximately $14.8 million. The original estimate was made in 2012, and was nearly $15.3 million. The last update of the agreement, approved June 26, 2018, estimated the total cost at $31.6 million.
SBCTA is the lead agency for the project and will pay 58.1 percent of the cost. The city of Highland is responsible for 41.9 percent of the cost.
“We have six agreements and the project is now entering the bidding phase,” said Wong. “When the final design was completed they [SBCTA] had a final cost estimate and they came back to the city with another agreement reflecting the latest cost estimate. They like to update us and get the OK that we’re willing to continue working with them on this project.”
Wong also noted that the final cost will depend on the approved bid and construction activities.
According to Mayor Pro Tem Larry McCallon, bidding for the project will be opened in October with construction expected to begin in early 2020.
The project will add new lanes to SR210 using the unpaved median, an auxiliary lane in each direction between Base Line and Fifth Street, new sound walls, an acceleration lane heading south off Fifth Street and widened exit ramps at Base Line. The project will also include special aesthetic features added to the Base Line bridge.
Two-thirds of the city’s cost share, approximately $9.7 million, will be funded by a term loan agreement for Measure I funds, a voter-approved half-cent sales tax for road improvements. These Measure I funds are to be paid back within 10 years of completion of the project with development impact fees from future development.
According to a city staff report, it will take the construction of 755 residential units or fewer commercial developments to generate enough DIF revenue for the city to replenish its Measure I fund allocations.
“The risk is low that we cannot pay ourselves back,” said Wong.
The remaining one-third of the city’s share will be funded directly with development impact fees.
“We’ve been talking about this project for several years and the cost keeps going up the longer we put it off. I think this has a very high importance for the transportation system in the city of Highland,” said Councilman John Timmer.