They've been down this road before, but the city of Pittsburg and members of a key East Contra Costa transportation planning alliance are again looking at ways to solve a long-standing dispute.
The Transplan Committee gave conceptual approval of two options last week: a primary option that would bring Pittsburg back into the East Contra Costa Regional Fee and Financing Authority until 2030, and an alternative that keeps the city in the planning group but allows it to handle its funding independently.
The financing authority's member agencies collect money from developers, which is then distributed to transportation-related projects. Transplan oversees regional transportation interests and plans.
"We're happy that the Transplan board allowed both options to remain open," said board member Sal Evola of Pittsburg.
"Hopefully this is it. I think we've compromised the best we could," adds board member Bob Taylor of Brentwood. "The ball is now in Pittsburg's court."
The county's preferred option would put $5.5 million in funding toward Pittsburg's long-sought extension of James Donlon Boulevard, set a rigid project priority list, and level out the amount each city collects in developer fees.
The second option allows Pittsburg to remain in Transplan but act independently and retain its own fee program. Pittsburg would have to form a plan with the county to work on how it keeps its "return to source," or collected, funds.
Each city council and the county board of supervisors will discuss the options and make revisions at upcoming meetings in closed session.
"We look forward to hearing the recommendations that come back from the member agencies," Evola said, adding Pittsburg remains dedicated to regional cooperation.
Pittsburg abandoned the financing authority in September 2010, arguing local road projects -- namely the James Donlon extension -- are being shortchanged. James Donlon originally sat high on the financing authority's priority list of area projects, but it later slid down because of regional consensus.
Transplan sued Pittsburg in April 2011. After more than a year of negotiation, it appeared last summer that a settlement had been reached. However, the offer was abruptly withdrawn in November, and the suit was dropped.
All parties have since gone back to the drawing board.
If Pittsburg chooses to re-enter the group, it would keep the money it has collected to date for environmental clearance, right-of-way acquisition and design of the 1.7-mile James Donlon project.
That project would be set on a priority list behind widening Highway 4 through Antioch, eBART to Hillcrest Avenue, projects on the former Highway 4 bypass through Oakley and Brentwood, $13 million in old financing authority commitments, and extending eBART into Brentwood.
The list could only change if there are "extenuating circumstances" in regional priorities and would require a unanimous vote by the finance authority board, according to an agency staff report.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.