Regional transportation leaders, elected officials and advocates are gearing up for virtual meetings in May and June to secure much-needed federal transportation funding for projects throughout San Joaquin County.
The annual San Joaquin One Voice advocacy effort is coordinated by the San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG). The coalition will meet with federal officials over the next few months to seek funding for 20 specific projects crucial to improving infrastructure and transportation in San Joaquin County, including top priorities such as work at the State Route 99/120 interchange in Manteca. Each of the projects fall under at least one of five themes adopted by the SJCOG Board of Directors: environmental sustainability, trade corridors, innovation and technology, growth management, and social equity and mobility.
“We’ll be able to tailor our presentations to highlight the themes that most interest individual members of Congress and the Biden administration,” said Sol Jobrack, chair of the SJCOG board. “This will give us the greatest opportunity for success in securing the funding we need for future infrastructure and transportation projects. It’s a bonus for us that the One Voice themes also align with the Biden administration’s infrastructure and transportation priorities.”
Those priorities are vital to the economic vitality of the region and the quality of life for people living here.
“We concentrate on promoting the development of the regional economy, making sure we have the infrastructure we need for the future, that people living in San Joaquin County have a satisfying quality of life, and businesses have the means to be successful,” said Betty Wilson, executive director of Business Council San Joaquin and part of the One Voice delegation. “Meeting with our elected representatives through One Voice is a vital part of the overall success in those areas.”
Satisfying those priorities will draw businesses to San Joaquin County that offer new job opportunities to residents.
“As an organization that focuses on attracting, retaining and expanding business opportunities in San Joaquin County, we are dependent on a strong infrastructure, access to trade corridors, and quality-of-life features that allow businesses to attract and keep good employees,” said Bob Gutierrez, president and CEO of the San Joaquin Partnership and part of the One Voice alliance. “One Voice helps us to help businesses and residents prosper.”
The meetings in May and June are virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the One Voice coalition of elected officials, transportation experts and advocates intends on traveling to Washington, D.C., in October for in-person meetings with federal lawmakers and administration officials.
The San Joaquin One Voice approach has been well-received in the past. Elected federal representatives accept it as help prioritizing and shepherding crucial projects and programs through the federal budget process. Members of the One Voice group also learn from legislators, legislative staff and administration officials about various federal programs and how to best compete for grants.
The broad-based, public-private One Voice effort was initiated in 2000 with a trip seeking federal funding for projects of broad, communitywide benefit in San Joaquin County. Funding was changed in 2010 when federal earmarks were eliminated, therefore, San Joaquin County pivoted to compete for funds on the national level. Earlier this year, the return of earmarks through the Community Funding Program opened another avenue of opportunity. The One Voice process continues to be welcomed by congressional representatives and their staffs as help prioritizing much-needed projects and policies.
The San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG) is a regional planning agency responsible for transportation planning, habitat conservation planning, and a range of other responsibilities that include managing the Measure K transportation sales tax program as well as demographic and economic data, air quality and airport land use planning. Visit the SJCOG website for more information.