Garamendi pushes for Highway 4 money

It’s YouTube meets Earmarks.

Rep. John  Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove, has posted a YouTube video of his testimony in Washington, D.C., before the House Appropriations Committee where he speaks in favor of sending $40 million to Contra Costa for Highway 4 expansion.

Garamendi has submitted 22 earmark requests, which he lists on his web site. He barred from consideration all requests directly from for-profit companies, a source of frequent consternation for other colleagues who receive campaign contributions from people tied to earmarks.

Of course, asking and getting are two different things. Every member of Congress has a big list of his or her own.

For the masochistic wonks out there, click through for Garamendi’s full news release:

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman John Garamendi (D-Walnut Creek, CA) today spoke before the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development to plead for funding for the Highway 4 Widening Project and other important transportation priorities in the 10th Congressional District. Congressman Garamendi requested $40,000,000 for Highway 4 in his earmark requests.

“Highway 4 is the only major east-west transportation link joining the communities of Antioch, Pittsburg, Oakley and Brentwood with central Contra Costa County and the Greater Bay Area, and it’s one of the most heavily used commercial and commuter highways in Northern California,” Congressman Garamendi said. “This project, a top priority of the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, is coordinated with a Bay Area Rapid Transit extension and will extend the present four lanes express lane into a six lane freeway – reducing a very significant daily traffic jam. “

According to a 2007 study by the Texas Transportation Institute, the Bay Area has the second worst traffic conditions in the nation. According to TRIP (The Road Information Project), a nonprofit organization promoting policies which are designed to improve traffic conditions, 61 percent of all Bay Area highways are in poor condition. This costs Bay Area residents an extra $2,032 a year in higher vehicle operating costs, crash expenses, and delays caused by congestion. 80 percent of the commerce and traffic in and out of the Bay Area moves through the 10th Congressional District.

At the hearing, Congressman Garamendi lobbied for three additional transportation projects:

· Travis Air Force Base North Gate: An essential improvement providing better access to the largest employer in Solano County, this project would create a second access point to the base. Presently, daily traffic jams prevent quick access and any accident or incident prevents critical Air Force personnel from getting on base to perform their tasks. The project is a top priority of the Solano Transportation Authority. Congressman Garamendi requested $5,000,000 for Travis Air Force Base.

· I-580 Corridor Improvements: The primary link between the Bay Area and the Central Valley is cluttered with congestion at almost any hour. These vital improvements would expand high occupancy vehicle/high occupancy toll (HOV/HOT) lanes to help increase revenues and introduce more rapid bus transit routes. The project is a top priority of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency. Congressman Garamendi requested $10,000,000 for I-580.

· Dixon Train Station/Parkway Boulevard Overcrossing: A fast growing city west of Sacramento, Dixon is home to a major intercontinental rail line used for both freight trains and the Capitol Corridor commuter rail system. Trains pass through the center of the city dozens of times each day, creating needless delays and a major safety hazard. The overcrossing project will make sure that pedestrians and vehicles will no longer have to wait as trains pass through the city. The project is a top priority of the Solano Transportation Authority. Congressman Garamendi requested $2,000,000 for the Dixon overcrossing.

For Fiscal Year 2011, Congressman Garamendi submitted a total of 22 project requests to the House Appropriations Committee, which are available for public viewing at http://garamendi.house.gov/legislation/appropriations-requests-for-fiscal-year-2011.shtml. Early in the earmark selection process, Congressman Garamendi rejected all for-profit earmarks. All earmarks requested originated from the community, and most earmarks requested come directly from local governments and agencies. The Appropriations Committee is now reviewing Garamendi’s requests.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen