Highway 395 coalition makes progress

The Lassen County Transportation Commission officially executed a contract with Mark Thomas to prepare the U.S. 395 Coalition and Implementation Plan.

The goal of a separated four-lane highway between Susanville and Hallelujah junction has long been sought due to its notoriously dangerous conditions year-round.

With the approval of the commission to authorize the contract, the game planning starts.

However, a major challenge of the project is to overcome the decades of changes to state funding transportation efforts.

The commission set aside funds for further planning of the project to the tune of $100,000.

The funds approved for the contract only utilize $99,671. This approval marks the commission’s beginning stages to gathering facts, figures and means the drafting of a grant application to Cal Trans for the next step, which is to build a funding phasing plan for a 40-mile stretch.

The commission’s executive secretary Matt Boyer spoke to the commission on what happens next.

Boyer said, “There are two component parts to this contract. One is to do some preliminary planning and engineering based on Cal Trans concept report for 395. But frankly, more importantly … the team we’re recommending … has as a subcontractor, the Ferguson Group.”

The group itself is a company Boyer has worked with off and on for several decades.

The Ferguson Group, Boyer said has offices in California and Washington D.C., are “experts in building the kind of coalition that we think is going to be necessary to attract funding from Washington D.C. so that we can see the improvements.”

Boyer explained that the group had established connections in the manner that would be beneficial to the commission’s efforts to secure funding.

“There are some opportunities back in D.C. that are nation-wide opportunities, and the two key one’s are related to the Strategic Highway Network, which is a system of defense-ready roads and the freight corridor funds that are back in Washington D.C.,” said Boyer.

The approved plan would assist the commission and the coalition to identify which segments of the highway would need to be improved and at which time of the project.

Boyer told the commission, they will give “maximum consideration” where there are areas of higher than average accident rates or significant areas of severe or fatal accidents during their planning, however, Boyer said the long-term strategy is to hit Cal Tran’s concept of a four-lane highway.