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Placer park work suspended by state freeze

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Two state grants totaling nearly $2 million for Placer County’s Hidden Falls Regional Park planning and trail work are wrapped into the freeze on state infrastructure project loans. A state panel voted Wednesday to stop lending money for about 2,000 infrastructure projects through June because of funding shortfall projections. County Public Works Director Jim Durfee said Thursday that the move has an impact on grants for planning and building infrastructure this summer at the park, located between Auburn and Lincoln. The county has stopped work on planning for what would have been an expansion of a trails network and the state decision would likely delay work on trails and bridges, Durfee said. California has been unable to borrow for months, has the lowest credit rating of any state in the nation, and is expecting a cash shortage two months from now. “If the grants go away, it would indefinitely delay work on the park,” Durfee said. While the state-funding crisis is affecting the park project, other capital projects the county is undertaking with other funding are continuing to be budgeted for. That list includes the jail project in South Placer County, increased animal shelter space and libraries in Rocklin and Colfax. The state’s three-member Pooled Money Investment Board voted not to lend the money to a list of projects that also includes the $330 million Highway 65 bypass around Lincoln, which started work last spring. Mark Dinger, Caltrans spokesman, said that while the move means funding has stopped, there is still enough money already freed for the project to continue work while the transportation body considers other options, including borrowing from other funds on less crucial projects. “Right now, we’re buttoning down the project for the winter and we can’t stop that,” Dinger said. “And some structural work is continuing.” The same is true for the $48 million, second phase of the Interstate 80 carpool-lane project through Roseville, from the Sacramento County line to Eureka Road, Dinger said. A third major project in Placer County impacted by the freeze — $78 million of roadway rehabilitation work between Donner Lake and Donner Pass Road — has already suspended work because of winter weather, Dinger said. “Maybe they will have solved the funding dilemma by the time work should be starting again in late May or early June,” he said. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at gust@goldcountrymedia.com.