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Will Uncle Sam help ACE project?
One Voice making pitch for federal transportation dollars
The federal government is being asked to help with a plan to reduce travel time by Altamont Commuter Express trains to San Jose in half. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Uncle Sam is being asked to kick in half of the $12 million needed for an environmental study essential to ultimately reducing travel time by Altamont Commute Express passenger rail between Lathrop/Manteca and San Jose by 50 percent.

It is one of the regional projects that the 13th annual San Joaquin Council of Governments One Voice delegation plans to pitch for federal funding during a whirlwind lobbying effort in Washington, D.C., that starts Monday.

One Voice was started in the late 1990s when business leaders and elected leaders in San Joaquin County noted other areas of the state often obtained federal funds to help with economic development and transportation while San Joaquin County rarely got any. It was decided a united front that not just worked the Congressional delegation but also made pitches to key decision makers in the federal bureaucracy could benefit the local economy.

The ACE project initially would secure a separate right-of-way over the Altamont Pass. Currently ACE shares old, curvy tracks with Union Pacific freight trains. A separate right-of-way with straight tracks would whittle 30 minutes from the Stockton to San Jose trip to get travel time down to an hour and 40 minutes.

Once the entire 85-mile corridor is upgraded as envisioned to enable high speed trains, the commute trip would be slashed in half making it possible to travel from Lathrop/Manteca to San Jose in 55 minutes.

Among the other projects being pitched:

• Ripon is seeking $2.5 million to combine with $400,000 in local funds to build a separate bike way covering three miles along the Union Pacific railroad tracks that would connect the Tidewater in Manteca to the Ripon’s bike path system.

• Ripon is requesting $3.5 million to go with $2.3 million in local funds for a five-mile pipeline to connect the city with the South San Joaquin County Surface Water Treatment Plant pipeline north of Manteca.

• Lathrop is asking for $5 million to add to $33 million in growth fees to replace the Lathrop Road and Interstate 5 interchange.

• Manteca is seeking $2.4 million to go with $400,000 in development fees for the next phase of the proposed replacement interchange for Austin Road and Highway 99 to cover alignment studies, layout connecting road details, and of initial environmental studies.

• Manteca is requesting $800,000 to go with $400,000 in local funds for the final design work for the $20 million McKinley Avenue and 120 Bypass interchange.

Manteca council members Steve DeBrum and Debby Moorhead are participating in the trip.