The San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) is injecting more than $16.2 million into transportation projects that are vital to the health, safety and livelihood of San Joaquin County residents after creatively pooling money from several state and federal funds.
SJCOG, the planning, financing and coordinating agency for the San Joaquin region overseeing transportation, housing, habitat conservation, and other programs, is pulling together money from various sources to cover funding shortfalls to such regionally significant improvements as the State Route 99/120 Connector Project in Manteca. The SJCOG Board of Directors approved the spending plan at its most recent meeting.
“The resolution we approved OK’ing the plan really elevates our stake in these projects and moves the improvements closer to completion,” said SJCOG Chair Leo Zuber, a member of the Ripon City Council. “These projects improve the safety for motorists living in and driving through San Joaquin County. It also means commerce moves more smoothly on our highways, which means economic growth in the region.”
Using local, state and federal funding to leverage even more funding for significant regional transportation projects is not unusual for SJCOG, but this spending plan is significant and timely.
“We’re always looking for innovative ways to fund important projects that improve the quality of life for San Joaquin County residents,” said SJCOG Executive Director Diane Nguyen. “Being able to pool this much money now to prevent vital projects from stalling is a huge step forward. This is an excellent example of the creative thinking that helps pay for important projects and puts our region in contention for even more transportation funding in the future.”
SJCOG staff knew there was only about $5.23 million for projects for the region in the 2022 State Transportation Improvement Program (STIP), a five-year capital improvement program for transportation projects. Each region in California must also develop a Regional Transportation Improvement Program (RTIP) focusing on the region’s funding priorities. The region’s RTIP is then submitted to the California Transportation Commission (CTC) for review and approval after being combined with the final STIP.
Seeing the prospect of major delays in vital construction-ready transportation projects, SJCOG staff recommended pooling the STIP funds with other available state and federal funds to cover at least some of the funding shortfalls for regional projects. That means some projects that might have been delayed can move forward. The plan approved by the SJCOG Board includes the following additional funding sources:
- $4,449,000 from the Local Partnership Program (LPP), created under Senate Bill 1 and administered by the CTC that uses a formula to distribute funds to counties that have passed a regional sales tax for transportation, such as San Joaquin County’s Measure K.
- $1,330,162 in Highway Infrastructure Program (HIP) funds, administered by Caltrans and intended for the construction of highways, bridges and tunnels.
- $3,300,215 in state-administered Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA) funds, part of the stimulus response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $3,244,451 in federally administered CRRSAA funds.
These funds are separate from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) signed into law Nov. 15, 2021. It is too early to know how much funding the San Joaquin region might expect from the IIJA.
Combining the LPP, HIP and CRRSAA funds with the $5.23 million in STIP funding — while setting aside some money for next year — means there is more than $16.2 million for vital regional projects. More than $1.33 million in HIP funds and more than $3.24 million in federal CRRSAA money will go to the first phase of the State Route 99/120 Connector Project that can now go to construction in spring 2022. The $5.23 million in STIP funding will go to phase two of the project, which should be able to begin a year later.
The State Route 99/Turner Road Interchange Project in Lodi will receive $3.1 million in LPP funds, which covers the project’s current shortfall. The project may begin construction as soon as this summer.
In addition to highway investments, the funding strategy will also infuse $3.3 million for local road improvements for the cities of Stockton, Lodi, Manteca, Tracy, Ripon, Escalon and Lathrop, and San Joaquin County. Each jurisdiction decides where those infrastructure dollars can be spent in their community.