Local Leaders Hope to Bring Home Stimulus Cash

February 7, 2009 12:24:05 AM PST
An organization made up of local political and business leaders from throughout Fresno County is heading to Washington D.C. They are calling the effort "One Voice" and hope their team approach will help secure Federal funding for a number of local projects.The first item on their list is three million dollars for the extension of State Highway 180 all the way to Academy Avenue, East of Fresno.

Other big projects include three million for Veterans Boulevard in Fresno, and three million for improving the Golden State Corridor through Kingsburg, Selma and Fowler. Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin says one selling point to the Feds is that the projects would put people to work.

"Absolutely, they would be job creating. Getting people to work and improving our streets and the city would be a good thing right now." Said Swearengin.

Another request will be for one and a half million dollars for a 5 hundred foot bridge over Arroyo Pasajero Creek, near Huron, to keep the often flooded road to the town open.

Clovis Mayor Bob Whalen says the "One Voice" approach has worked in the past. "We have been able to see as a continued effort this one voice effort as a region, going back to Washington DC has been helpful to the Valley." Whalen said.

The local Council of Governments claims such trips have netted about 13 million dollars in the past seven years. What are the chances this year? Republican Congressman George Radanovich plans to meet with the group, but notes there is already a one trillion dollar budget deficit.

"Spending is getting way out of hand in Washington, having said that, there will be a budget this year, so, while we're trying to watch the spending we have to be real careful that whatever is spent gets to Fresno and the Valley."

However, Republicans have managed to trim some 40 billion dollars from the stimulus package proposed by President Obama. That money was destined for state and local governments.

Other projects on the wish list include: One and a half million dollars for a wastewater re-use project in Clovis and half a million dollars to reconstruct the Manning Avenue Bridge in Reedley. There will also be a request for three and a half million dollars for a computer communications system to link public safety agencies in the county.

A portion of the trip is being paid for by local building developers and other business interests.

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