Back-Seat Driver

Brookfield School must pay $330,000 for traffic signal

The city is about to install an expensive traffic signal at the intersection of 43rd Avenue and Riverside Boulevard in the Pocket area just off Interstate 5. But it won’t be taxpayers who pay for it, or at least not many.

Instead, the $330,000 cost will be borne by Brookfield School, a private grammar school, because, city officials say, Brookfield’s recent relocation to that site is triggering the need for the light.

Brookfield officials recently decided to move their school from a site a few miles north in Land Park. (Not exactly at the corner, though. The Trap bar sits at the corner, and will remain there, with the school property wrapped around it.)

As part of the the move, the city conducted traffic studies and determined that the influx of parents dropping kids off and other vehicle traffic to the school will be large enough to trigger the requirement for a traffic signal to improve safety and to reduce congestion.

School President John Sittner said officials knew the school would be responsible for the signal cost. They thought it would cost $175,000. But city officials decided that the light should be synchronized with the nearby signal at Greenhaven Drive. That required new control equipment at Greenhaven and fiber optics, nearly doubling the price, hitting Brookfield with a bit of sticker shock.

City traffic head Hector Barron said the requirement is not unusual. The Target store paid for a signal on 65th Street when it moved in near there, and the Sacramento Kings will be required to pay for a variety of new signal heads when they finish building the downtown arena. When a neighborhood needs a traffic signal based just on regular growth over time, or because of a small infill project, the city will typically pay for it, Barron said.

Brookfield’s Sittner said he accepts the situation: “I’m sorry we had to shoulder the whole burden. But that’s the way it is. If we want the school here, we pay for the light.”

I-80 ramp closures

Caltrans is warning drivers that two freeway ramps on Interstate 80 in Natomas and north Sacramento will be closed for a month for construction starting tonight at 10 p.m. The closures involve the Northgate Boulevard loop on-ramp and the Norwood Avenue off-ramp, both in the eastbound direction. They are not scheduled to reopen until Nov. 16.

The work will allow Caltrans to open one more in the eastbound direction in hopes of easing the traffic congestion the area has seen since major lane reconfigurations were put in place this past summer. The work is part of a $133 million project, stretched over several years, to rebuild all lanes of the freeway for a 10-mile section, and add carpool lanes. The project is supposed to wrap up by spring 2016.

Caltrans has set up a website providing updates on the project at www.80acrossthetop.com. Drivers also can sign up for email alerts at the site.

Call The Bee’s Tony Bizjak,

(916) 321-1059.

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