Claremont officially gains control of Route 66

The back-and-forth battle for Foothill Boulevard is at an end.

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) issued the city of Claremont $5.7 million late last month for the relinquishment of Foothill Boulevard.

Caltrans finalized its decision for relinquishment on June 26 after a unanimous vote of approval from the Claremont City Council last May. The acquired funds represent an end to a decades-long struggle to own the city’s portion of the major public roadway.

“We are in control of our own destiny,” said Mayor Pro Tem Opanyi Nasiali. “We can now do the necessary improvements and create a master plan for developments along Foothill Corridor without begging Caltrans to weigh in.”

Throughout the past 10 years, the city has worked with Caltrans, who previously operated the Claremont portion of Foothill Boulevard, in hopes of reclaiming the street, but with little success.

“Caltrans wanted to relinquish, but when we explained to them what we considered to bring the roadway into a state of good repair, they kind of let it die about 10 years ago,” said City Engineer Craig Bradshaw in a statement last month.

Senate Bill 993, introduced by Senator Bob Huff in 2010, was created to help the city and Caltrans through the process. A year later the 2 groups negotiated an agreement, but financial uncertainties made the deal an impossibility.

“Unfortunately, the timing could not have been any worse,” Mr. Bradshaw said. “The state’s economy was in disarray as it continues to be, and no funding could be located.”

The appropriate funds were finally identified in the Caltrans Shop, a state highway operations and protections program, within 2011-2012 funds. The $5.7 million given to Claremont will be used to begin much-needed repairs and updates to the city’s portion of Foothill, according to a city report. Updates include repair and additions to sidewalks, curbs and gutters, installation of and updates to handicap ramps, audible pedestrian signals at Mountain and Mills Avenues, Indian Hill and Claremont Boulevards, and correcting drainage deficiencies.

A majority of the repairs are expected to begin in the summer of 2013, according to the report, with $200,000 for safety, traffic and ADA improvements to begin within 6 months of receiving the compensation funds. Mr. Bradshaw expects the city will receive its money by the end of the summer.

Some of the improvements not included in the relinquishment compensation include new streetlights, future street resurfacing, and undergrounding of existing electrical and utility lines, as well as routine traffic signal electrical maintenance. Annual routine maintenance of Foothill is expected to cost the city $120,000, which will be funded through available gas tax through fiscal year 2014-2015.

In time, the relinquishment will present an aesthetic improvement travelers along the Foothill Corridor can enjoy similar to when the city acquired its portion of Base Line Road, according to Mr. Nasiali.

“Now we can see the difference,” Mr. Nasiali said of the improvements to Base Line, especially with the medians. “We are going to start to see physical improvements [to Foothill] including the medians and the synchronization of the signals. We will be able to fix it up to our standards without having to check with Caltrans.”

—Beth Hartnett



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