Sacramento Region Is Ready for Recovery
Wide range of agencies identify more than $11 billion in near-term infrastructure needs across six counties
In June 2020, SACOG released a list of more than $11 billion in near-term infrastructure projects that could be funded by stimulus spending from the Federal government. “Ready for Recovery: A Call for Short-Term Strategic Investments in Infrastructure in the Greater Sacramento Region” collates key projects from 50 different agencies across the six-county greater Sacramento region. The projects represent an illustrative list of ready-to-go investments grouped in categories representing key strategic goals to advance economic recovery, prosperity and resilience. While not comprehensive, the list represents examples of the types and magnitude of investments the Sacramento region is prepared to make if Congress moves forward with an infrastructure-focused stimulus package.
“We stand ready for an investment from the Trump administration in the region,” SACOG board chair Lucas Frerichs told the Sacramento Bee. “Sacramento is ready to move forward on ‘smart infrastructure.’” The collaborative project aimed to get useful information about infrastructure needs in the region into the hands of the region’s members of Congress, to help them fight for stimulus funds. House Democrats released the $1.5 trillion Move Forward Act on June 18 and may vote on it as early as next week.
It includes $500 billion for transportation projects, including a large portion to repair roads and bridges, as well as $25 billion for drinking water, $100 billion for broadband, $70 billion for clean energy projects, $100 billion for low income schools, $30 billion to upgrade hospitals, $100 billion in funding for public housing and $25 billion for the postal service, according to The Hill.
One way of rebuilding smarter and more efficiently than before is to leverage existing funds, for example by prioritizing “dig once” projects that mean broadband infrastructure is laid alongside transportation infrastructure. The Sacramento regional list includes 31 such projects where broadband infrastructure can be installed along 330 miles at the same time. That would help rural areas where broadband connections are sparse and at a time when the need for reliable digital connectivity has never been more crucial. No county in the region has reached the level of 98 percent household connectivity, as mandated by AB 1655, and the gaps are most significant in more rural counties such as El Dorado at 79.6 percent and Yuba County at 76.6 percent.
“One thing we have seen out of the pandemic is changing patterns for work and school,” Frerichs said. With more people at home, “we are seeing major gaps in the region in high-speed communications.”
SACOG, along with key partners Placer County Transportation Planning Agency and El Dorado County Transportation Commission, worked with several agencies beyond its usual transportation and land-use stakeholders to pull together the list quickly. Key among them were Sacramento Regional County Sanitation District (RegionalSan), the Regional Water Authority, and the Sacramento Area Flood Control Agency.
For example, a RegionalSan project would turn household wastewater into clean irrigation water for 16,000 acres of farmland south of Elk Grove, allowing the region to reduce the need to pump ground water during drought times. That water currently is treated at a lower level and sent into the Sacramento River.
Project manager Mike Crooks said federal funds would push the already largely funded $375 million project over the finish line for potential construction and water delivery by 2023.