Governor signs Vasco Road bill

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill Thursday mandating a study of funding possibilities for a permanent median barrier on accident-prone Vasco Road.

Assembly Bill 15, authored by Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, requires the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to study sources of cash for a concrete barrier, an improvement considered key to reducing fatalities on a popular commute route where 17 people have died since 2003.

Houston sought the commission’s intervention, although it has no legal jurisdiction over the county-owned road, and accused Contra Costa County of failing to allocate enough money for the barrier. The county has $7 million but engineers estimate the 2-mile barrier will cost between $15 million and $31 million.

Contra Costa County Supervisor Mary Piepho of Discovery Bay disagrees with Houston’s assignment of blame, and has said that the cash-strapped county needs state financial help to construct the barrier.

Houston, who terms out next year, has said he will challenge Piepho in her re-election bid for county supervisor in 2008.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has until Sept. 30, 2008, to submit its findings to the Legislature.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen