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Seeking Safety - Slow Progress On Brennan
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Work is continuing and progress is being made slowly on the effort to install a signal light and make other improvements at the Highway 120 and Brennan Avenue intersection east of the city.

Escalon City Engineer John Abrew said it is a lengthy process, working with multiple agencies. He provided an update on the project status to council members at a recent session. The project began in 2005, said Abrew, with councilman Gary Haskin instrumental in securing $170,000 in Measure K funds for the work. Haskin at the time was the city's representative to the San Joaquin Council of Governments, COG, board.

"The City has been actively developing the project using the Measure K funds since 2008. The City has completed the environmental process, conducted in-depth traffic analysis studies, made significant progress to complete design documents, and secured authorization for railroad improvements at the intersection from Union Pacific Railroad," Abrew said. "Although the improvements are well needed and supported and the intersection meets the technical requirements to install a traffic signal, Caltrans will not authorize the installation of the signal. The City is currently exploring an alternate direction within the Caltrans organization in an attempt to gain project approval."

With the delay in actually getting a signal light installed, that has also had a detrimental impact on the city efforts to get an industrial park going in the area. Abrew said additional factors, including the current economic climate, have also had an effect.

"The City occasionally gets inquiries from developers but there has not been any serious interest lately," he admitted of the industrial park.

Abrew added that the 'accident history' at the Highway 120 and Brennan Avenue intersection supports the use of a signal light, but the bureaucratic maze is difficult to navigate.

"The project was initiated by the City of Escalon due to the accident history and general safety concerns at the intersection," said Abrew. "Ushering a project through the Caltrans process involves many different divisions and many different levels within the Caltrans organization. Dealing with Caltrans is best described as 'challenging'."

Still, Abrew said, the city is "cautiously optimistic" about the project and, considering it will be funded with Measure K funds and city developer impact fees and not require any state money, they are hopeful it will eventually come to fruition.

"The City Council is committed to improving the intersection but also understands Caltrans has to approve the project for the project to become a reality. The City will continue to work with local Caltrans officials to gain project approval," said Abrew.

Current Escalon City Councilman Jeff Laugero represents the city on the SJCOG Board, and is also working to gain regional support for the project through his efforts with SJCOG.

"The goal of the project is to improve the overall safety at the intersection," Abrew added.