SAN BERNARDINO • The High Desert will be receiving a greater share of county road money after a proposition to distribute the funds by miles of road as well as population was approved.

After appealing to San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG), a recommendation by the Mountain/Desert committee to take the number of miles of road into account was approved on Jan. 5.

The SANBAG ruling means $20 million in proposition 1-B funds will go to the Mountain/Desert region for road projects — $5 million more than if the money were distributed by population alone, said First District Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt. Half of the funds were distributed by population, and half by miles of road.

Mitzelfelt said he doesn't have any particular projects in mind for the Barstow area. The money could only be used on "major arterial" roads such as Barstow Road or Main Street, and could not be used on secondary residential streets. The money is also designated for major restructure work or new projects, and not routine maintenance.

The new distribution criteria will only apply to this particular influx of money — a state and local partnership bond.

Mitzelfelt said the exact criteria for eligible projects will be voted on by SANBAG within the next one  to two months, and potential projects will be submitted for approval shortly thereafter. The money may not be used for repair work on roads damaged in recent storms.

Mitzelfelt said the county is seeking federal disaster grant money for roads and bridges damaged by recent flooding.

Mitzelfelt called approval of the recommendation a good example of regional cooperation.

"The mayor of Chino seconded the motion, even though it meant his area would receive less money," said Mitzelfelt. "He said just because the majority of the board can take a bigger share doesn't mean it should."

Mitzelfelt said he will be having discussions with cities in the Mountain/Desert region soon about how the grant money could possibly be used with matching local funds for projects.

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