Sacramento County supervisors delayed a vote Tuesday on the planned Capital Southeast Connector because of concerns raised by farmers along the proposed Grant Line Road route.
The Sacramento County Farm Bureau and rural residents questioned how the planned 35-mile expressway from the Elk Grove area to El Dorado County will serve the needs of farmers who own much of the property along the route.
“Agriculture has changed recently – we have a lot of people, we have a lot of equipment, that move down these roads,” said Jack Kautz, co-owner of Kautz Farms, which includes Ironstone Vineyards on Grant Line Road.
“It will be a terrible mess,” he added in remarks at Tuesday’s board meeting.
Farmers recognized that the expressway needs to be built, because Grant Line Road can’t handle existing traffic, much less what can be expected as the southern part of the county continues to grow. But if agriculture is to continue to succeed in the area, farmers need safe and convenient access to the expressway, Kautz said.
The connector’s joint powers authority needs land-use approval from the Sacramento County, Elk Grove, Rancho Cordova and El Dorado County before proceeding with the expressway that would ultimately run diagonally from Interstate 5 to Highway 50. The authority needs each government to amend general development plans to include the route.
Two years ago, supervisors voted in favor of the proposed route, and they gave no indication Tuesday that their position has changed.
However, supervisors made it clear that they want the farmers’ fears addressed in the design of the project.
“These concerns are very important,” Supervisor Jimmie Yee told the authority’s staff.
Supervisors instructed the authority’s staff to meet with the farmers and try to reach some understanding about how the authority can build the road while continuing to provide safe access to farmers. The meeting is supposed to take place before the Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote on the project April 9.
Gene Endicott, a spokesman for the authority, said staff has held discussions with many residents but has not been able to provide specifics about road design, such as where an individual property owner might be able to get onto the expressway. That’s because the project is not in the design phase yet, he said.
The authority will meet with farmers to try to give them a general idea of what might be done with the expressway’s design to address their concerns, he said.
Construction of the project is not certain. Voters approved $118 million of the project’s funding in 2004 as part of the Measure A sales tax, but the authority needs to find other sources for the rest of the $456 million needed. The project has been promoted as a way to reduce congestion around Sacramento and increase economic development.
Representatives of Region Builders and the Sacramento Metro Chamber spoke in favor of the expressway on Tuesday, saying it is needed to revive the economy.
Call The Bee’s Brad Branan, (916) 321-1065. Follow him on Twitter @BradB_at_SacBee.