It has brought back millions of dollars in transportation funds for San Joaquin County.
And this year on the San Joaquin Council of Government’s One Voice trip, the two main tenets that Congressmen and Senators wanted to talk about – job creation and goods movement – just happened to be right in the wheelhouse of Lathrop City Manager Steve Salvatore.
Last week Salvatore recounted for the council the productive sessions that came out of the weeklong trip to Washington, D.C., that included meetings about the reuse of Sharpe Army Depot – which, he says, will be cut down by roughly 600 acres – and the pending Waters of the United States Bill on top of the busy schedule of transportation-related meetings.
This year Lathrop pitched for an overhaul of both the Lathrop and Louise Avenue interchanges at I-5. Salvatore said he stressed the importance of Lathrop’s position as a transportation hub thanks to the its proximity to major freeways and an abundance of light-industrial, warehouse-style facilities that he hopes will become a salvo for Bay Area companies looking for abundant cheap space as their own backyards fill up.
“The kinds of things that they’re mainly interested in are creating jobs and good movement – those were really the two major themes this year,” Salvatore said. “We have all of that here – we can create a lot jobs and we can create a lot of jobs movement with the intermodal facility and the light industrial properties and it helps us community to the congressmen how important our region is to transit and transportation.”
And highway transportation on a national scale could very well be on the mend according to meetings that Salvatore sat in on.
The Federal Highway Trust Fund, which he said has been a patchwork of single-year extensions and band-aided efforts to keep America’s highways operational, has now received a five-year approval out of Washington’s general fund to pay for all of the necessary projects that are required across the country.
But there’s a catch – there’s technically no funding mechanism to pay for any of those projects at the moment. Whether it comes from DMV fees or a gas tax – which he considered a “non-starter” – there are efforts underway to make sure that the money that is spent for the necessary repairs, upgrades and new construction will be properly backfilled.
More came out of the meetings, however, than just transportation information.
Salvatore said that he received an update on the Federal Waters of the United States Bill – which is currently halted after 30 states have filed lawsuits to block its implementation – that would essentially proclaim that any ditches or runoff streams would be classified as “Waters of the United States” and would be protected as such.
Part of the problem that exists, he said, is that somewhere between 90 to 98 percent of San Joaquin County would be affected, and in the event that the city ever needed to remove an irrigation ditch or even create one, they would have to go through a rigorous process with the Army Corps of Engineers.
He said he expects a decision about the matter to come within the next few months.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.