In a new approach to using local transportation funds, the county Transportation Commission voted Monday to spend $2.9 million for preliminary work on some highway improvements projects to make them "shelf-ready" should bigger sums become available for construction.
"The goal is to have projects on the shelf, ready to go, if funding opportunities arise in the future," commission Executive Director Stan Oftelie said of the planned engineering and environmental studies.
Projects included in Monday's commission action are: $1.5 million for final design of improvements for the Orange Freeway; $300,000 for an environmental impact report on the Riverside Freeway; a $90,000 study of improvements to the Garden Grove Freeway; $50,000 studies for both Imperial Highway and the San Joaquin Hills Corridor; $65,000 for design work and environmental assessments for the planned widening of the Santa Ana Freeway, and $85,000 for project studies on the Costa Mesa Freeway.
The commission also set aside $10,000 for a right-of-way protection study to identify property needed for the Santa Ana Freeway widening and a $50,000 study to coordinate highway construction activities for the same project. They also set aside $150,000 for revisions of the county's 15-year transportation improvement plan, including a study of a proposed county sales tax for transportation projects and other potential means of paying for traffic reduction efforts.