FAIRFIELD — Nine Solano County transportation and civic leaders wrapped up a three-day trip to Washington, D.C., seeking federal dollars for the Fairfield-Vacaville train station, the Interstates 80 and 680 interchange and other projects.
The Solano Transportation Authority sponsors the trip each year. They met with such officials as Rep. John Garamendi and Rep. Mike Thompson, Federal Transportation Administration Deputy Administrator Therese McMillan and staff members for various congressional transportation committees.
Fairfield for several years has unsuccessfully sought a federal grant to get money it needs to start building the Fairfield-Vacaville train station at Peabody and Vanden roads. This year, it is seeking $11 million for the $81.5 million project, with the goal of opening the station in 2017.
The project includes taking Peabody Road over the railroad tracks with a bridge.
Fairfield has $55.5 million in local and state funds and $4 million in federal funds. It hopes to get the remaining money through an $11 million request for state trade corridor improvement bond money and the $11 million federal request.
“Located in an economically distressed area and region with high unemployment and foreclosure rates, the project will immediately create (more than) 720 initial jobs during the two years of construction beginning in late 2014,” said the written pitch delivered to Congress.
Dixon Mayor Jack Batchelor helped lobby for the $11 million. Fairfield Mayor Harry Price was scheduled to take the trip, but was not able to do so.
When Fairfield competed for the federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant in the past, it did so in a “rural” category. Now there is only an “urban” category, Batchelor said.
“It’s difficult for cities the size of Fairfield and Vacaville,” Batchelor said. “That doesn’t mean they can’t be successful.”
Transportation officials also lobbied to get money for I-80 projects. One is replacing the existing Interstates 80 and 680 interchange with a new interchange a half-mile to the west to be built in seven phases at an estimated total cost of about $740 million.
Phase one – replacing the adjacent Green Valley interchange – is to start construction this spring. A report to Congress said that additional money would allow design work to begin on the next two phases.
Transportation leaders also brought reports on such local projects as making routes to schools safer, transit options for seniors and people with disabilities, and transportation centers.
Making the trip were Batchelor, Vallejo Mayor Osby Davis, Benicia Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, Rio Vista Vice Mayor Constance Boulware, Solano Economic Development Corp. President Sandy Person, SolTrans Executive Director Mona Babauta, and Solano Transportation Authority Executive Director Daryl Halls, Deputy Executive Director Janet Adams and Marketing and Legislative Program Manager Jayne Bauer.
The trip will cost an estimated $11,000, Bauer said.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.