The $1.7 trillion federal spending bill moving quickly through Congress has millions of dollars for Sacramento-area roads, bike paths, water projects and more.
There’s money for sidewalk and bike path projects in Folsom. For job training and counseling at The Opportunity Center in Sacramento and help for Habitat for Humanity to aid first-time, lower income people who want to buy homes.
In West Sacramento, funds will be available to convert the I Street railroad drawbridge from motor vehicle access to a bikeway and walkway. In Elk Grove, funding would be used to build a bike and pedestrian crossing over Highway 99 along the Laguna Creek Inter-Regional Trail System.
Congress is expected to approve the bill as soon as Thursday. The projects are part of what’s called earmarking, a controversial process where members of Congress can ask for funding for community projects.
Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., secured 18 Sacramento-area projects worth $48 million. Reps. Doris Matsui and Ami Bera, Sacramento Democrats, also sponsored projects.
Critics call this pork; lawmakers who use the process call it serving the local communities that they know best.
Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, has tried to ban earmarks. He called the process a ”tawdry, corrupt, and irresponsible practice,” and did not seek any such project funding.
But for most lawmakers, Democrat and Republican, the process thrives.
Earmarks were banned in 2011, after controversy over projects such as the “Bridge to Nowhere,” a proposal in 2005 to connect the Alaskan city of Ketchikan to an island with the city’s airport and 50 residents.
Earmarks were revived last year as “community funding projects,” and any member requesting funding had to publicly explain why the money was needed.
Budget-writers then included what they saw as worthy projects in the legislation now moving through Congress.
The budget bill would fund the federal government through the rest of fiscal 2023, which ends Sept. 30. Current funding runs out Friday, and despite strong opposition from many Republicans, the new bill is expected to win bipartisan approval.
Among the Sacramento-area projects:
▪ Sacramento River Basin Floodplain Reactivation, $7.8 million. Padilla explained that he funding will help “build resiliency in California’s natural infrastructure and water systems by: supporting the abundant return of migratory birds along the Pacific Flyway; revitalizing river food webs and supporting the recovery of salmon populations; recharging groundwater aquifers; and improving flood protection.”
▪ Bryte Park all-weather field in West Sacramento. $750,000 to help buy and install equipment and materials for the all-weather soccer field.
▪ The Opportunity Center, Sacramento. $750,000 to help provide job training and placement, small business enterprise resources, and supportive services to help lift up the community, according to the plan submitted earlier this year by Matsui. The Sacramento Democrat said the money would pay “for the project’s site construction, improvements, fees and project management.”
▪ Cornerstone–Habitat for Humanity. $750,000 to provide aid for qualified, low income first homebuyers. Matsui’s office said the Cornerstone project is a “collaborative affordable housing community created by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sacramento and Mutual Housing of California.”
▪ I Street bridge deck conversion in West Sacramento. $4.9 million for converting the top deck of the historic double-deck I Street railroad drawbridge from motor vehicle access to a dedicated bikeway and walkway. Matsui said the project will connect “two designated disadvantaged, low-income community zones.”
▪ ZEV Fleet Infrastructure Program, Sacramento. $4.3 million to install electric vehicle infrastructure and catalyze expanded electrification of the City of Sacramento municipal fleet. Matsui said the project will includes construction and installation of 78 Level 2 chargers, four DC fast chargers, and electrical infrastructure upgrades at 17 city locations.
The chargers are aimed at supporting the replacement of 250 light-duty vehicles, including 144 work trucks, with EVs by the end of 2027.
▪ Laguna Creek Inter-Regional Trail Crossing at Highway 99 in Elk Grove. $2 million to build a bike and pedestrian crossing over the highway. People now must leave the trail to cross at busy crosswalk. The project would create seven miles of uninterrupted bike path.
▪ Gold Line Light Rail Station conversions. $3.64 million for converting four light rail stations to accommodate new light rail vehicles, according to the Bera’s office. Stations include Watt/Manlove, Mather Field, Sunrise in Rancho Cordova and Historic Folsom Station.
▪ Sacramento Native American Health Center, $1 million to support construction and other costs for the new site at 3800 Florin Road. Matsui’s office said the facility will offer medical, behavioral, dental, and supportive services.
▪ SMUD’s neighborood electrification project, $3 million. This will help provide clean energy technology for up to 300 single family homes.
▪ Sacramento Area Sewer District’s Franklin community septic to sewer conversion project, $3 million. The project will change septic systems to the public sewer in the community.
▪ Pannell Community Center, $1.98 million. The Meadowview neighborhood project will include the first phase of improvements, including enhanced air filtration and circulation, retrofits for enhanced insulation and partial electrification, energy storage system and a charger to support emergency response vehicles and equipment charging needs, Matsui’s office said.
▪ White Rock Road, Sacramento County, $4 million for building a new three mile multi-use path parallel to White Rock Road. It would provide connections to existing bicycle facilities on White Rock Road and the growing Sacramento regional bike and active transportation network, Bera’s office said.
▪ Riley Street safety improvements in Folsom. $4 million would go to upgraded sidewalks and bike lanes on both sides of Riley Street from Sutter Street to East Bidwell Street.
▪ Elk Grove-Rancho Cordova-El Dorado Connector Authority’s Capital SouthEast Connector, $4 million. The funds will help build a multi-use bike path, expand broadband and other improvements.
▪ American River Watershed Folsom Dam Project, $3.05 million. The funds will help modify and automate the existing Folsom Dam temperature control shutters. That should help the ability to control the downstream water temperatures to help improve habitat conditions for salmonid species.
▪ Elk Grove’s Old Town streetscape project, $2 million. The funds should help ease traffic congestion, make sure the the area is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act and is safe for cyclists and pedestrians.
▪ Mather Community Campus’ Human Assistance Facility Renovation Project in Sacramento County, $1.5 million. The project will renovate facilities at the campus, a one-year employment and rehabilitative transitional housing program for veterans and families.
This story was originally published December 21, 2022 10:48 AM.