The San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) closed Fiscal Year 2022-23 with a long list of accomplishments and renewed vigor moving into the new year.
San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors Chair Robert Rickman, who also served as the SJCOG Board’s chair for Fiscal Year 2022-23, highlighted the accomplishments at the board’s Aug. 24 meeting and thanked those who helped to bring about those achievements.
“I want to thank my colleagues, the board members, for the work we’ve done in the past year, as well as our Executive Director Diane Nguyen,” Rickman said. “You do such a great job. And, of course, (Deputy Executive Director/CFO) Steve Dial. We truly are stronger together. And I can’t state enough … how much we respect our staff and how much hard, hard work you do.”
He said one of those SJCOG successes was the agency’s financial security.
“One of the things that’s great and I’m proud of – and we all should be proud of – is we’re leaving (SJCOG) in strong fiscal health with the operating budget of $40 million,” Rickman told his fellow board members. “That’s the largest in our history.”
Among the other accomplishments Rickman highlighted was the first-ever advocacy trip by the Megaregion Working Group to Sacramento on behalf of the Megaregion Dozen. The Megaregion Dozen make up a collection of 12 projects across the region represented by SJCOG, the Metropolitan Transit Commission, and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments. Elected officials on the working group jointly advocate for the mutually beneficial projects that stretch from the San Francisco Bay Area to the San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento region and into the Sierra Nevada. Such advocacy efforts in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., are vital in garnering state and federal funding.
Rickman also noted the San Joaquin One Voice® advocacy program for promoting projects, programs and issues of regional significance to federal legislators and agencies, typically through an annual trip to Washington, D.C. The most recent trip advocated for a shorter than normal list of regional projects so the delegation of elected officials, their staff, and representatives from commerce and trade unions could be nimble in seeking money from federal funding programs.
In the most successful One Voice® effort to date, three projects received partial funding due to the 2023 One Voice® effort. SJCOG’s State Route 99/120 Connector Project Phase 1B project, the second of three phases to significantly overhaul the freeway-to-freeway interchange in Manteca, will receive an impressive $5 million in community project funding, also known as earmarks. Two other projects also received funding – $2.5 million for San Joaquin County’s Grant Line Road Corridor Improvement Project, critical to fostering goods movement and supporting economic development, improving air quality, enhancing safety, and improving the quality of life for the disadvantaged community of Banta; and $1.5 million for The Rail Academy of Central California (TRACC), an educational collaborative among the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission (SJRRC), Stockton Unified School District, Sacramento City College, Herzog Transit Services Inc., Union Pacific Railroad, and Amtrak to teach the next generation of railroad workers.
Breaking ground for the State Route 99 and Turner Road interchange project in Lodi funded in part by Measure K, the half-cent sales tax that raises money for transportation projects in San Joaquin County, was another fiscal year highlight, Rickman said.
Launching the Stockton Mobility Collective, which aims to improve transportation options for residents looking for clean, affordable ways to travel to jobs, schools, health care, grocery stores and other key destinations, was another accomplishment for Fiscal Year 2022-23, Rickman said. The pilot project provides electric shared mobility, transit and mobility incentives, Vamos-EZHub mobility app, workforce development and other programs.
Rickman also lauded the board for investing nearly $14 million over the next four years in regional Active Transportation Program funding to improve safety and connectivity for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. The funded projects will encourage active transportation – walking, biking and other forms of self-propelled, human-powered transportation – and move cars off the road, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality.
SJCOG hosting the well-received San Joaquin Valley Policy Conference in April was also a great accomplishment for the agency, Rickman said. He commented on welcoming more than 200 attendees, perhaps the highest attended policy conference.
Rickman closed out his comments by thanking fellow board members and SJCOG staff.