Local advocates meet with federal elected, government officials to promote 27 regional projects
The largest contingent in the 20 years of the San Joaquin Council of Governments’ (SJCOG) San Joaquin One Voice® advocacy effort traveled to Washington, D.C., earlier this month set on bringing back federal funding for 27 projects significant to the region.
The effort is already reaping rewards with federal funding requested just last week for several projects on the list.
“We went there with a strong team armed with convincing arguments for a robust list of projects that are very important to the people who live and work here and travel our highways,” said SJCOG Board Chair and Ripon City Councilmember Leo Zuber. “We made meaningful progress in advocating for the funding needed for these projects. The trip is the beginning of continued efforts throughout the year to secure funding for the projects.”
The COVID-19 pandemic forced SJCOG to carry out the program virtually for the past couple of years, meeting with federal lawmakers and representatives of various federal agencies via teleconferencing. With a lull in the pandemic, the One Voice® delegation of 50 led by SJCOG board members and agency Executive Director Diane Nguyen was able to travel to the nation’s capital to meet in person with federal officials.
The delegation of public and private sector representatives — local elected officials, government staffers, community leaders, and officials from the Port of Stockton, rail and bus transit — were in Washington for three days of back-to-back meetings. They met with U.S. Reps. Jerry McNerney and Josh Harder, staff members from Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Alex Padilla’s offices, and representatives from the White House and federal agencies covering transportation, climate and broadband internet. Not only was the delegation able to pitch the 27 projects, it received information on funding programs that best fit the delegation’s requests. The Washington, D.C., law firm CJ Lake LLC also provided strong government affairs advocacy on behalf of the One Voice® effort.
The list of 27 projects in San Joaquin County cover street and highway safety, bus transit enhancements, expanded rail transit, airport terminal modernization, railroad infrastructure upgrades at Port of Stockton, workforce development, broadband infrastructure and more. The projects are aligned with the policy areas resonating in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“The One Voice® projects fit nicely with what will be funded by this once-in-a-generation investment in infrastructure,” Nguyen said. “And equally important to us is that by helping local jurisdictions get funding for these projects we’re working collaboratively to provide vital services to the people who live and work here. At SJCOG, we’re proud to help San Joaquin County residents get where they need to be so that individuals, families, and businesses can thrive.”
Nominated by SJCOG member jurisdictions and approved by the SJCOG Board, the projects are among the highest transportation and equity priorities in San Joaquin County. Safety is also a significant consideration, and the highest priority regional project is the State Route 99/120 Connector Project in Manteca. When completed it will help to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality, and enhance traffic safety for motorists.
The One Voice® delegation received word last week that their efforts convinced Reps. Jerry McNerney and Josh Harder to each request $7 million in federal funding for Phase 1B of the SR 99/120 project. The separate requests went to the Subcommittee on Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies as a Community Project Funding request for Fiscal Year 2023. Each member of the House of Representatives may request funding for up to 15 projects in their districts for FY ’23, although only a handful of the requests will end up being funded. Only state and local governments and eligible nonprofit organizations will receive the money.
McNerney also made Community Project Funding requests for two other One Voice® projects:
- He asked the subcommittee to OK $2.5 million for San Joaquin County’s Grant Line Road Realignment Project south of Banta. It will make improvements to road and railroad crossings to ease congestion, improve air quality, and enhance safety along the 1.65-mile stretch of road being improved.
- McNerney also asked the subcommittee to OK $1.5 million for The Rail Academy of Central California (TRACC). The academy, a workforce development partnership among the San Joaquin Railroad Commission, Stockton Unified School District and Sacramento City College, will offer educational opportunities for Stockton youth and adult learners to fill jobs in the railroad industry and simulate the economy.
Visit SJCOG.org for more information on the San Joaquin One Voice®.