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Lodi, county leaders seek fed money for Highway 12

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Posted: Wednesday, April 2, 2008 10:00 pm

Making Highway 12 safer for drivers is the No. 1 priority for Lodi and San Joaquin County officials when it comes to lobbying for federal money.

Dozens of elected officials and staff will head to Washington, D.C. next week to lobby for projects ranging from Highway 12 safety to improving Stockton Metropolitan Airport.

Lodi City Councilman Larry Hansen and county Supervisor Ken Vogel will lead the lobbying effort for $10 million in federal funding, to widen Highway 12 from two to four lanes from Lower Sacramento Road to the Sacramento County line west of Tower Park Marina.

The city of Lodi is also requesting $5 million as part of its $23.8 million project to widen the highway from two lanes to four from Lower Sacramento Road to Interstate 5 and install a median, said Dianne Barth spokeswoman for the San Joaquin Council of Governments. The county is asking for another $5 million to do the same thing from Interstate 5 west to the Sacramento County line. Total county cost is $115 million, she added.

Improving Highway 12 has become a top priority since at least 66 people have died between Lodi and Fairfield since 2000. Ten were killed on that stretch of Highway 12 in 2007 alone.

Hansen said he will meet with Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and other key Washington officials in an effort to gain federal money for Highway 12 and other projects.

Highway 12 is one of a laundry list of San Joaquin County projects that will be discussed on the One Voice trip. Projects include reconstructing the Highway 99-Harney Lane interchange and improvements to Stockton Metropolitan Airport and other projects.

"This trip has been successful in the past," said Barth. "Countywide since 2001, we think the trip has influenced $56 million worth of projects for San Joaquin County."

Expenses are financed through a variety of sources, Lodi and COG sources say. Some of it is through taxpayer dollars, while much comes from sponsors consisting of companies and agencies that stand to benefit from the projects the federal government might finance, said Steven Dial, chief financial officer for the Council of Governments. Sponsors include developer A.G. Spanos Cos., engineers and the Stockton East Water District.

"The trip is sponsored by sponsors, we ask folks to pay a fee to cover costs," Barth said.

Since Hansen sits on the Council of Governments, the COG will pay half his expenses, and the city of Lodi will pay the other half, Dial said.

The county will spend more than $15,000 to send four members of the Board of Supervisors and seven employees on the lobbying trip.

"This is not a pleasure trip," Hansen said.

Dial said the COG, a coalition of the county and its seven cities, spent $156,000 of taxpayer money on the One Voice trip. How much this year's trip will cost won't be known until after the group returns from the trip, Dial said.

Special projects

Here are some of the projects for which elected officials and their staff are requesting federal funding on next week's One Voice trip:

  • $10 million toward widening Highway 12 from two lanes to four from Lower Sacramento Road to the Sacramento County line west of Tower Park Marina.
  • $5 toward the reconstruction of the Highway 99 interchange at Harney Lane. Total cost is $30 million.
  • $5 million for the MORE Water Project to create a dam at Duck Creek to use Mokelumne River water to quench the eastern county's parched groundwater basin. Total cost of the project is $320 million.
  • Levee improvements to reduce the chance of flooding in the western end of the county.
  • An instrument landing system upgrade at Stockton Metropolitan Airport.
  • More than $200,000 for a feasibility study for cleaner fuel locomotives.
  • Additional railroad tracks for commuters.
  • Extension of the Crosstown Freeway in Stockton west of Interstate 5.
  • More Medicare and Medi-Cal money for San Joaquin General Hospital.

    Source: San Joaquin Council of Governments

    Lodi and San Joaquin County representatives going to Washington

  • Lodi City Councilman Larry Hansen
  • San Joaquin County Supervisors Ken Vogel, Leroy Ornellas, Victor Mow and Larry Ruhstaller
  • County Administrator Manuel Lopez
  • County Public Works Director Tom Flinn and Deputy Public Works Director Steve Winkler
  • County Counsel David Wooten
  • County Water Resources Coordinator Mel Lytle
  • County Health Care Services Agency Director Kenneth Cohen
  • County Interim Airport Director Steve Hicks

    - News-Sentinel staff

    Companies, agencies helping pay for trip

  • A.G. Spanos Cos.
  • Granite Construction Co.
  • AKS Development
  • Neumiller and Beardsley
  • Richland
  • Stockton East Water District
  • Teichert Construction
  • Citigroup
  • Kjeldsen & Sinnock engineering firm
  • Collins Electric

    Source: San Joaquin Council of Governments, San Joaquin County

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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