People in San Joaquin County will be able to breathe easier after the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) Board of Directors approved $22 million in funding for six innovative projects aimed at improving air quality.
Funding for the improvements – a fiber optic project, new passenger rail service, electric vehicle charging stations, traffic signals, and a roundabout – was OK’d at the board’s Aug. 24 meeting. All the projects will improve air quality by producing less greenhouse gas emissions, but also provide added benefits such as pedestrian, bicyclist and motorists safety, less traffic congestion, and improved commuter services.
“The projects approved by the SJCOG Board will help the region to improve air quality here and make strides in giving everyone in San Joaquin County healthier air to breathe,” Escalon Mayor and SJCOG Chair David Bellinger said. “And cleaner, healthier air is something we want for everyone in San Joaquin County.”
Projects receiving funding approved by the SJCOG Board include:
Stockton’s Fiber Optic Implementation Phase 2, nearly $6.2 million: Fiber optic cables will be installed and traffic lights in Downtown Stockton synchronized so the city can monitor and react to traffic congestion and unplanned events, such as collisions. The project will improve mobility for cars and buses traveling downtown.
The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission’s Operation of Valley Rail New Service, $10 million: The San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission, which owns and operates Altamont Corridor Express (ACE), is expanding passenger rail service through its Valley Rail Program. That includes improvements to ACE and the Amtrak San Joaquins service connecting the San Joaquin Valley, Sacramento, and the Bay Area. New passenger rail service will connect Ceres and Turlock to San Jose’s Diridon Station and north to the Natomas/Airport Station in North Natomas. Expanded passenger rail service makes it more convenient to hop on a train than it is to fight traffic and hassle with parking once at a destination.
Stockton’s Airport Way and Sixth Street Traffic Signal, more than $1.3 million: This project includes a new traffic signal at Airport Way and Sixth Street and synchronized traffic signals along Airport Way from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Arch Airport Road that will improve mobility for cars and busses along the corridors. The synchronized traffic signals to reduce traffic congestion and improve transit. The project will also provide a safe pedestrian crossing of a busy, high-speed, four-lane roadway.
Ripon’s Charging stations at City Hall and the Corporation Yard, $528,000: Funding will pay for five solar electric vehicle charging stations at Ripon City Hall and five at the city’s Corporation Yard, where the city’s vehicle fleet and various maintenance and utility facilities are located. The solar-powered chargers won’t draw power from the electrical grid and will support zero-emissions vehicles.
Lathrop’s Charging stations at the Lathrop Generations Center, $850,000: This project will install up to 10 new solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations at Lathrop Generations Center, a multiuse community facility and home to many of Lathrop’s community events. The solar-powered chargers won’t draw power from the electrical grid and will support zero-emissions vehicles.
Stockton’s Roundabouts at Feather River Drive and Driftwood Place, and Swain Road and Morgan Place, nearly $3.1 million: A new roundabout replacing a four-way stop at the intersection of Swain Road and Morgan Place will ease congestion there and improve transit service along Swain Road. Besides those clean-air benefits, the project will provide safe crossings for residents in the neighborhood. This project was partially funded and more money will go to the project if it becomes available.
SJCOG serves as joint lead agency for transportation and air quality in San Joaquin County along with San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District (Valley Air). SJCOG works with Valley Air, other metropolitan planning organizations, and local transportation commissions in San Joaquin Valley to coordinate planning for transportation to improve air quality.
SJCOG also serves as Regional Transportation Planning Agency, Congestion Management Agency, and the Local Transportation Authority, which manages the Measure K half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements in San Joaquin County. SJCOG’s Transportation Demand Management Program, dibs, improves air quality and reduces traffic congestion using transportation demand strategies such as promoting carpooling, vanpooling, riding transit, and active transportation such as biking and walking.
Funding for the projects comes from the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) Improvement Program, created in 1991 to pay for projects that improve air quality and provide congestion relief, and the Carbon Reduction Program (CRP), created under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), for projects that reduce transportation-related carbon emissions.