Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Solano County Mayors delegation makes headway at U.S. Capitol

Article Published: Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Mayors lobby for federal funding
Solano County delegation makes headway at Capitol

By CHRIS G. DENINA, Times-Herald staff writer

For the past few years, Solano County officials have made the rounds in Washington, D.C., asking U.S. lawmakers for more money for local transportation projects.

This year, though, some officials now visiting Capitol Hill said they're edging closer to getting all the federal dollars needed for at least one key project, Vallejo Station. The proposed waterfront parking garage and transit center could cost an estimated $56 million.

If the city gets the remaining $8 million or so needed, construction could begin as early as next year, Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli Jr. said. Even if the city only gets part of the requested amount, every bit helps, he said.

"It's certainly worth the effort," Intintoli said by phone from Washington, Monday. "If we didn't make the effort, we wouldn't get anything."

Intintoli is part of a county delegation seeking more than $81 million in federal funding for local transportation projects, including the transit center.

The group plans to finish its two-day lobbying trip today. The delegation includes Suisun City Mayor Jim Spering, Dixon Mayor Mary Ann Courville and Rio Vista Mayor Ed Woodruff and Executive Director Daryl Halls of the Solano Transportation Authority.
Their schedule today includes meetings with Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and Washington representatives for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif.

"The idea is to keep our projects high profile," Intintoli said. The Solano County group has visited Washington every year since 2000 to seek more money, he said.

This year, the group is asking for another $50 million for a project that would help ease traffic at a freeway bottleneck in Fairfield. The interchange at state Route 12 and Interstates 80 and 680 is prone to congestion, officials said.

The delegation also is requesting another $23 million for improvements to Jepson Parkway. The road between Vacaville and Suisun City serves as an alternative route to Interstate 80, which runs parallel to the parkway, officials said.

The three transportation projects all tie together, said Mike Wilson, chairperson of the Vallejo Chamber of Commerce board.

Unless traffic is eased on Interstate 80 in Fairfield, commuters will have trouble getting to Vallejo to take the city's ferry service, he said. And unless Vallejo Station is built, those ferry riders will have inadequate room to park, he added.
"I'd rate the traffic situation as bad," Wilson said.

On Monday, the group met with representatives for Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, and Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

- E-mail Chris G. Denina at cdenina@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6835.

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