BCAG & Caltrans District 3 win “2015 Caltrans Excellence in Transportation Award” for Stewardship of the EnvironmentTop of Page
Each year, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) highlights the best of its work and the work of its partners through the annual Caltrans Excellence in Transportation Awards Program. For the 2015 program, Caltrans received nearly 80 entries from within Caltrans, public agencies, private contractors and consultants across the state.
Caltrans District 3, Butte County Association of Governments (BCAG) and our consultants Restoration Resources were awarded under the Stewardship of the Environment category.
The Butte County Freshwater Marsh (Phase I) and Vernal Pool (Phase II) Mitigation Project was a joint effort by the BCAG, Caltrans District 3 and Restoration Resources to provide the required mitigation for impacts arising from the construction of the State Route 70/149/99/191 Highway Improvement Project. The two phases of this project led to the preservation of over 480 acres of wetland, woodland and grassland habitats, including the creation of 38 acres of freshwater marsh and nearly 30 acres of vernal pool habitats.
Under constant care and monitoring, these created and preserved habitats have developed into lush refuges for wildlife species in a landscape dominated by agricultural uses. These habitats are now protected under perpetual conservation easements held by the Wildlife Heritage Foundation, a state and federally approved non-profit land trust. This ensures permanent protection of the wetland preserve, as well as providing high quality ecosystem-based mitigation for the Highway Improvement Project for State Routes 70, 149, 99 and 191 in Butte County. As a testament to this, the created vernal pools have since been inhabited by the federally endangered fairy and tadpole shrimp and both phases of the mitigation project were accepted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 2013, fulfilling Caltrans’ mitigation requirements.
The project was recognized as an exceptional example of an effective public/private/non-profit partnership. Working together, the team successfully designed, built and now permanently manages and protects a large-scale wetland preserve.
One of the Vernal Pools Created as part of the State Route 70/149/99 Mitigation Requirements
BCAG Continues Project Development Work for State Route 70 CorridorTop of Page
BCAG, Caltrans District 3 and Yuba County are continuing their ongoing efforts to implement improvements on the State Route 70 Corridor in Butte and Yuba Counties.
BCAG completed a Project Report in 2013 that identified the six remaining projects to widening State Route 70 to four-lanes between the cities of Oroville in Butte County, and the of Marysville in Yuba County (see Figure 1 below).
Currently, BCAG is developing the Project Approval and Environmental Documents (PA&ED) for Projects 1 & 2 as identified in Figure 1; Project 1 is fully funded through construction while Project 2 is funded through PA&ED.
State Route 70 – Remaining Corridor Improvements
In Yuba County, Caltrans District 3 is developing a State Highway Operation and Protection Program (SHOPP) project just north of the City of Marysville to the Butte/Yuba County line. The SHOPP project is a $91 million safety project that includes widening SR 70 to include a two-way center left-turn-lane at various locations and widening of the shoulders. The first phase for developing the SHOPP project will be to prepare the required environmental documents.
While the Yuba County SHOPP project is focused on the required safety improvements as specified under the SHOPP program, Caltrans District 3 and BCAG are looking at the viability to include additional funding that would allow the scope of environmental documents to include the ultimate widening for this segment of SR 70 corridor to five lanes. It is estimated that the additional funding to include the ultimate project widening would be approximately $4 million.
BCAG has made a request to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) to program additional Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP) funds to BCAG to allow for the additional environmental studies on the SR 70 SHOPP project, no action has yet been taken by the CTC. While it is not common to expand the scope of a SHOPP safety project to also include capacity increasing needs, it has been done before in other areas of the state.
BCAG will provide further updates on the planning and project development activities for SR 70 in future newsletters. For additional information concerning SR 70 please contact either Andy Newsum or Jon Clark at BCAG, 879-2468.
Butte Regional Conservation Plan Final Public DraftTop of Page
BCAG staff has completed a Final Public Draft of the Butte Regional Conservation Plan (BRCP) and has submitted the Draft Plan to the US Fish & Wildlife Service for noticing in the Federal Register. Once noticed in the federal register, the BRCP will be out for a ninety-day public review and comment period which is expected to begin in the fall of 2015.
The BRCP is a federal Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and a state Natural Communities Conservation Plan (NCCP) that is intended to replace the existing problematic federal and state permitting process, with a smarter, simpler more cost effective process managed locally.
BCAG has been preparing the BRCP on behalf of the cities of Biggs, Chico, Gridley, Oroville and the County of Butte for the past seven years. Other plan participants include Caltrans District 3, Richvale Irrigation District, Western Canal Water District, Butte Water District, and Biggs West-Gridley Water District.
BRCP Relationship to General Plans – for the County and participating cities, the BRCP will result in state and federal “take” permits for all activities and projects identified in the General Plans that have the potential to impact sensitive species and habitat. In essence, the cities and county will already have endangered species compliance cleared for all conceivable General Plan projects before they move forward to construction. This will eliminate a significant hurdle to having these projects constructed. When such projects are planned and constricted in the future, they will be able to avoid the typically lengthy permitting process under federal and state endangered species laws that currently delay construction for months or years, which greatly increases the cost of all these projects.
The overarching purpose of the BRCP is to replace the existing “project-by-project” environmental permitting process for federal and state endangered and threatened species in Butte County, with a more certain, streamlined, and consistent process. This will allow for projects to go forward to construction with local approvals and little or no involvement of federal and state regulatory agencies. The BRCP will ensure that all impacts on protected species are mitigated and will also contribute to the recovery of some species and the conservation of the ecosystems on which they depend.
Additional benefits of the BRCP are the preservation of open space and ongoing farming and ranching economies in the Plan Area that will maintain much of the rural character and natural beauty of our landscape.
The BRCP ninety-day public review period is scheduled to begin in the fall and conclude by the end of the calendar year. A response to comments collected from the public meetings will be prepared and included in the final EIS/EIR.
Review and consideration for approval by the cities, County and water districts is anticipated to occur in early 2016. If approved by the local jurisdictions, the BRCP would then need final approval by the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries.
For more information concerning the BRCP, please contact Chis Devine, Planning Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-879-2468.
Butte Regional Transit Operations & Maintenance Facility ConstructionTop of Page
Construction on the Butte Regional Transit Maintenance & Operations Center continues to make steady progress as construction continues on the facility during the summer building season. Construction of the facility began in October 2014, and is being managed by Kitchell.
As of July 2015, the “Offsite” construction, which included the expansion of the storm drain system and construction of Aztec Drive, has been completed by Franklin Construction Inc. of Chico. The City of Chico accepted the new roadway on March 27, 2015; Aztec Drive is now open for public use.
Onsite construction is being done by Broward Builders Inc., of Woodland Ca. As of July 2015, the Onsite work is approximately 35% complete with construction underway on the administration building, maintenance building, and fueling and bus wash buildings.
The Butte Regional Transit Operations & Maintenance Facility will include over 41,000 square feet of new buildings for administration, operations, maintenance, fueling and bus wash.
Construction of the new Operations & Maintenance Facility is being done in two phases; phase one includes construction of the new buildings for administration, maintenance and operations; phase two will include remodeling of the current building for additional office space, a board room and conference rooms.
Completion of the Butte Regional Transit Operations & Maintenance Facility is tentatively scheduled for July 2016.
For more information concerning the Butte Regional Transit Operations & Maintenance Facility, please contact Andy Newsum at email@example.com or Jon Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Board Approves 2015/16 BCAG Overall Work Program & BudgetTop of Page
The BCAG Board of Directors approved the 2015/16 Overall Work Program & Budget for the new fiscal year at their May 28, 2015 Board meeting.
BCAG is required to annually prepare an Overall Work Program (OWP) & Budget to identify all state, federal and regional transportation planning and programming activities that will be undertaken for the upcoming fiscal year.
BCAG’s 2015/16 OWP includes twenty-six specific work elements that address state and federal planning requirements, regional transportation planning needs, and construction and project development activities required for capital projects. Each work element outlines an objective, tasks to be completed, personnel, and provides a summary of revenues and expenditures for completing the work element.
BCAG’s 2015/16 budget totals $20,375,959 and includes funding from several federal, state and other discretionary funding programs. Figure 1 shows the sources of funds to BCAG’s 2015/16 budget.
Figure 2 summaries how funding is budgeted within the 2015/16 budget by work program activity. Work program activities include state, federal and regional planning responsibilities, project development activities which include the required planning, design and environmental documents necessary to for construction of highway and other capital projects; transit planning and administration for operating Butte Regional Transit the B-Line; and capital project construction, which includes construction of state highway projects and other capital facilities.
While many of BCAG’s annual work program activities address required state and federal planning responsibilities, most of BCAG’s annual work program activities directly support City and county planning and project development .(see Work Element Benefits Table).