Scott Rd and Newport Rd Bridge Improvements Discussed

At the city council meeting last Tuesday, councilmembers and city staff listened to a presentation by David Taussig, a consultant whom the C...

At the city council meeting last Tuesday, councilmembers and city staff listened to a presentation by David Taussig, a consultant whom the City hired to study financing for a variety of road improvements throughout the city.

Of particular importance were bridge improvements to Newport Rd and Scott Rd.

The city had hoped to begin construction on both bridges as early as 2011, but financing complexities seems likely to defer that to at least 2012, and perhaps likely 2013.

The biggest problem the city has right now is the way the community facilities districts (CFD) are arranged. Residents in these districts pay Mello Roos taxes which are used to pay for infrastructure projects, including bridge improvements. But these districts were set up by the County of Riverside prior to Menifee becoming a city.

As such, all revenue collected in one district can only be used for that district. It cannot be used to finance improvements in another part of the city. If the city were able to pool monies from all districts and use them for a single project, it's likely the Scott Rd bridge could have started construction now, if not earlier. But as such, they can't pool these monies.

There are actually several districts within Menifee, but for Taussig's presentation, he was able to consolidate them into two unique areas, a "Scott Rd" district and a "Newport Rd" district.

The Scott Rd district is expected to generate $20 million in Mello Roos taxes during a ten year span running from 2011 to 2020. He expects the Scott Rd bridge widening to cost about $50 million.

The Newport Rd district is expected to generate $38 million over the same span, while the Newport Rd bridge improvement is expected to cost $40 million.

A new bridge at Garbani Rd is expected to cost $10 million, and based on Taussig's maps, it appears that it falls within the Scott Rd district.

Taussig also identified as much as $85 million in funds coming from a variety of other sources, including other districts, and TUMF fees available from the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG). But that's all money the City of Menifee does not control, and is not guaranteed the city can secure that money.

Moreover, he went on to display a graph that shows if the City can get that additional $85 million, and begin construction on both the Scott Rd and Newport Rd bridges in 2011, it will still experience a lack of funds in the years 2015-2017 whereby construction costs will outpace what money the City has available.

He also went on to suggest that the City of Murrieta should contribute to the Scott Rd bridge, considering it will directly benefit from such an improvement due to businesses it has on the corner of Antelope and Scott. Yet Taussig said that discussions taken place between Murrieta, the County, and the City of Menifee have shown that Murrieta has no interest in helping out.

Don Allison, Menifee's City Engineer also pointed out that given the fact that builders are desperate for work right now, that the estimated costs of $50 million and $40 million for both Scott Rd and Newport Rd bridges will actually be as much as 20% lower when proposals are put out for bid.

Allison also pointed out that a bridge at Garbani Rd could be done more cheaply as a steel bridge instead of concrete.

Taussig also explained that bridge improvements present additional difficulties because once construction is started, it must continue towards completion without delays due to the transportation impact they have on the city. Hence it's necessary to have a good financial footing to work with. By contrast, a road widening project can actually be started and halted with less adverse impact, and therefore offers more financial flexibility.

The city council made no decisions after the Taussig's presentation. The presentation was simply provide information for the city to worth with.