Rural Cosumnes residents' sprawl concerns sidestepped in freeway connector vote

By Cody Drabble

Plans to build a long-awaited freeway connector through rural Sacramento County sped forward last week despite opposition from local farmers and ranchers.

On January 13, the Sacramento County Planning Commission unanimously recommended general plan amendments to accommodate the Capital Southeast Connector project, over objections from the Cosumnes Community Planning Advisory Council that the project would disrupt its rural lifestyle and induce suburban sprawl.

About 25 miles of the 35-mile-long project run through the Cosumnes community.

The connector, first proposed in 2006, would give commuters a direct route from Interstate-5 in Elk Grove to Highway 50 in El Dorado County, bypassing downtown traffic congestion and rural surface roads. The five-jurisdiction joint powers authority created to develop the connector says the project will generate 5,400 new jobs, $831 million in economic output and $23 million of indirect business tax revenue.

Four of the five CPACs impacted by the project—Delta, Vineyard, Southeast, and Cordova—voted to approve the connector.

Cosumnes CPAC vice chair James Perham said the proposal “ties the hands of agriculture and jobs and development in the area.”

According to Dean Blank, principal civil engineer on the connector, most of the access issues raised by the Cosumnes CPAC will be addressed later in the planning process.

But Sacramento County Farm Bureau executive director Charlotte Mitchell expressed concerns that the commission was acting too soon.

The board of supervisors is expected to vote on the planning commission’s recommendation on February 11.

Meanwhile, in El Dorado County, construction crews broke ground on the eastern end of the $57 million transportation facility on January 7.

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