Fullerton may be one of the few cities anywhere in the state to receive potentially happy news about redevelopment.

Members of the Orange County Transportation Authority Regional Planning and Highway Committee offered a sympathetic ear — and more importantly the possibility of money — when they learned Fullerton was coming up short on a rail and highway project.

Fullerton had been counting on redevelopment funds to help with the roughly $8.5 million needed to lower two streets, State College Boulevard and Raymond Avenue. The plan is to start next year and run the streets under the railroad tracks that parallel Orangethorpe Avenue. The project would be finished in three years.

Similar projects are underway across North Orange County to cut delays caused by freight trains and Metrolink. Currently, street traffic backs up while trains, especially long freight trains, cross the roads.

Carolyn Cavecche, mayor of Orange, said Fullerton was one of the first North Orange County cities to support the grade separation projects and budget money for them.

When Gov. Jerry Brown eliminated redevelopment projects statewide, Fullerton lost one of its funding sources for the project, and the poor economy has reduced funds from other sources.

Meanwhile, cities that joined the project later didn’t have to commit their own funds because special financing was available.

“Fullerton really is the only city that’s contributing to the grade separation process,” said Cavecche.

She and other members of the committee urged OCTA’s staff to return in March with a financial solution for Fullerton’s problem.

“They [Fullerton] had the foresight and came forward with this early,” said Cavecche. “I do think we need to take a look at this and make sure Fullerton doesn’t have to pay more.”

Will Kempton, the transportation authority’s CEO, said no other city is being required to pay as much as Fullerton would.


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