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City acquires Foothill Boulevard in long-awaited move

With a unanimous vote of approval by the Claremont City Council, Foothill Boulevard, from Towne Avenue to the county line before Monte Vista Avenue, now belongs to the city of Claremont.

The decision signified the city’s last step necessary to acquire the major roadway from Caltrans, and the realization of a decades-long goal of the city. The ownership will be finalized following the approval of the California Transportation Commission (CTC) next month.

“I believe control of Foothill Boulevard will be a great benefit to the city and we will be able to move ahead with the needed repairs,” said Mayor Larry Schroeder.

Throughout the past 10 years, the city has worked with Caltrans, which currently operates the Claremont portion of Foothill Boulevard, with the hope 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.

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 at the time.

“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.”

Recent funds, however, have been identified in the Caltrans Shop, a state highway operations and protections program, within the 2011-2012 budget. As part of the agreement, Caltrans will give the city $5.7 million in funding to begin much-needed repairs and updates to the city’s portion of the major roadway, according to Mr. Bradshaw. Updates include repair and additions to sidewalks, curbs and gutters; installation of and updates to handicap ramps; audible pedestrian signals at Mountain, Indian Hill, Mills and Claremont Boulevard, and correcting drainage deficiencies. A majority of the repairs are expected to begin in the summer of 2013, according to the city’s report, with $200,000 of safety, traffic and ADA improvements to begin within 6 months of receiving the compensation funds.

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

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