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A planned San Joaquin One Voice® trip to Washington, D.C., by regional transportation planners, elected officials and community supporters to advocate for much-needed federal transportation funding has been rescheduled from October 2021 to May 2022 due to continuing COVID-19 restrictions.
Instead of the in-person advocacy trip this fall led by the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG), the coalition and congressional representatives will continue the regional advocacy effort through ongoing engagement locally up to the May 2-5, 2022 in-person trip. It was announced at the Sept. 23 meeting of the agency’s board. The alliance held successful virtual meetings earlier this year with congressional staffers and federal officials.
SJCOG especially thanked U.S. Reps. Jerry McNerney and Josh Harder for their help in including three regional projects to Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations bill (H.R. 4550) and three more to the Invest in America Act (H.R. 2).
“The San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) would like to thank you for your efforts this year in supporting legislation to ensure the region can address our critical infrastructure needs,” reads a portion of a letter to McNerney and Harder signed by SJCOG Board Chair Leo Zuber and Executive Director Diane Nguyen. “Members of the SJCOG were especially pleased by the restoration of Congressionally Designated Projects this year, which have allowed members of the House of Representatives to pursue funding for significant local projects. Your advocacy on behalf of several Community Project Funding and Member Designated Project requests in our region was essential to their inclusion in the FY22 Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (T-HUD) appropriations bill (H.R. 4550) and the Invest in America Act (H.R. 2).”
The six projects represent more than $20 million in proposed investments to help improve the regional transportation systems, provide more efficient, resilient, and accessible service to millions of people who utilize the transportation infrastructure, and advance the goals of SJCOG and participating local jurisdictions.
Included in the Invest in America Act is $1.2 million for the Port of Stockton’s Critical Urban Freight Corridor Washington Street Widening Project; more than $6.7 million for the Stockton Rail Maintenance Facility Expansion; and $5.3 million for the San Joaquin Regional Transit District’s Solar Energy Project. Included in the T-HUD appropriations bill is $1.5 million for the North Lathrop Transfer Station for ACE/Valley Link; nearly $4.5 million to ACE for Manteca Station Rider Safety Improvement/Station Modernization; and $1.5 million to ACE for Locomotive Zero Emission Engine Conversion.
The Senate-passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684) does not include Member Designated Projects, but the letter urged McNerney and Harder to continue to advocate for the projects through reconciliation in the Build Back Better Act.
The State Route 99/120 interchange project did not make it into any spending bill.
“We are also highly appreciative to you both for your nominations of SJCOG’s priority project, Route 99/120 interchange,” the letter continued. “While this project did not end up in the current version of the infrastructure bill, we know your advocacy work for 99/120 remains just as strong and steadfast. SJCOG fully recognizes that your continued efforts will be instrumental in moving Route 99/120 into construction next year. Our office will be working with you on strategic funding approaches to leverage and to open other ladders of opportunities. … We are grateful for your efforts to date to secure Congressionally directed spending for these important local projects. In the critical weeks ahead, The San Joaquin Council of Governments asks for your continued advocacy to ensure our requests are ultimately funded.”