San Joaquin Valley Overview

The San Joaquin Valley regional planning agencies include: San Joaquin Council of Governments, Stanislaus Council of Governments, Merced County Association of Governments, Madera County Transportation Commission, Fresno Council of Governments, Kings County Association of Governments, Tulare County Association of Governments, and Kern Council of Governments. In 2006, the San Joaquin Valley regional planning agencies expanded their memorandum of understanding to form a Regional Policy Council, comprising two elected officials from each of the eight Valley counties, to discuss and build consensus on issues of Valleywide importance.


The Regional Policy Council, in coordination with the San Joaquin Valley regional planning agencies, has established a legislative platform that reflects the Regional Policy Council’s priorities in state and federal legislative matters. The legislative platform provides guidance when taking action on specific legislative proposals. The platform is intended to provide a unified voice when communicating legislative issues of regional importance to the Valley’s state and federal legislative delegation as well as relevant state and federal agencies.



  • Protect and enhance state and federal funding levels for transportation-related programs.
  • Continue to advocate as a region to advance common goals for improvements in state and federal legislation and policies.
  • Continue to pursue federal and state support for the projects and legislative priorities identified through the Regional Policy Council’s advocacy program called “Valley Voice”



The Issue

Given Proposition 1B’s success in leveraging state funds for transportation infrastructure, consider a new $15 billion bond exclusively for state highway safety, maintenance and capital improvements.


The SJV is California’s fastest growing region, with a population of more than 4 million, which is anticipated to grow to more than 6 million people by 2035. The SJV has a significant role in the movement of agricultural products and goods, with a heavy burden placed on the existing transportation infrastructure. Investments to preserve the SJV transportation infrastructure have not kept pace with the demand and have led to the deterioration of the usability of the network.

  • According to Caltrans and the Valley’s Goods Movement Plan, the San Joaquin Valley would need $1.7 to $3.5 billion to complete needed capacity and other safety priority projects in addition to $5.5 billion for freight movement-related priorities.
  • The SJV has more than 4,000 bridges, with Madera County having the highest percentage of structurally deficient bridges in the state at 34.7%.


cap and trade funding
The Issue

The SJV Policy Council supports the Transportation Coalition for Livable Communities, which includes the California Transit Association, Transportation California, California Alliance for Jobs, and local and regional government associations in the uniting principle that auction revenues derived from vehicle fuels should be used to fund transportation system needs in a way that achieves AB 32 objectives and builds on the framework of SB 375 and other GHG reduction strategies.

  1. Dedicate cap-and-trade revenues related to fuels to transportation investments.
  2. Invest a major portion of fuels-related revenues to implement the AB 32 regulatory program by reducing GHG emissions from transportation.
  3. Structure the investments to favor integrated transportation and land use strategies with an emphasis on poor air quality regions, such as the San Joaquin Valley.
  4. Cap-and-trade revenues should achieve greenhouse gas reductions, with priority given to projects that achieve reductions in criteria pollutants.
  5. Allow flexibility at the regional and local level to develop the most cost-effective ways to meet GHG reduction goals through transportation and land use investments.
  6. Provide the incentives and assistance that local governments need to make SB 375 work.
  7. Address project-funding determinations at the regional level under established statewide criteria to encourage local innovation and flexibility, while addressing the needs and role of disadvantaged communities.
  8. Policies and programs funded with cap-and-trade revenues should meet or exceed the provisions of SB 535 that require a minimum of 25% to be distributed in a manner that benefits disadvantaged communities and that 10% of the revenue be spent in those communities.

Funding revenues should be directed to transit and road operations and maintenance, as well as complete streets infrastructure within existing urban infill and rural communities. These funds must be invested in a way that implements AB 32 using, where applicable, SB 375 implementation strategies. Funds should be allocated to areas that have disadvantaged communities and poor air quality, recognizing that different strategies are needed to achieve GHG reductions in different areas of the state. Additional incentives should be offered to regions with Sustainable Community Strategies that exceed GHG reduction targets, or equivalent Blueprint Plans or other regional plans.


The Issue

The SJV Policy Council distinguishes the need to continue to fund the major regionally significant trade corridors.

  1. SJV Interregional Goods Movement Plan: provides a detailed description of the existing freight infrastructure (including the highways, roadways, rail facilities, intermodal facilities, intermodal centers, connections to inland and marine ports, and air cargo facilities) and provides a foundation for the analysis of existing and future freight capacity.
  2. Shortline Rail: During the last two decades over 60 miles of track have been abandoned in the San Joaquin Valley. It is important that these shortline rail corridors are preserved and enhanced to provide a necessary part of goods movement infrastructure within the SJV and to reduce levels of truck VMT.
  3. State Route 99 Business Plan: State Route (SR) 99 is a critical artery for goods movement in the State of California and the San Joaquin Valley. The extra stress of the overcapacity on the aged pavement in addition to the lack of adequate funding to reconstruct the pavement is the single most significant factor contributing to the current poor pavement conditions.

The eight San Joaquin Valley regional planning agencies continue to work in partnership with Caltrans and key private stakeholders, after developing the San Joaquin Valley Interregional Goods Movement Plan. The Plan, finalized in 2013 provides analysis of the vital goods movement networks of this multi-county region. Goods movement is a vital component of the San Joaquin Valley’s diverse internal economy that significantly plays a major role in the distribution of agricultural materials throughout California, the United States, and the world.


The Issue

Continued support and increased funding for state-supported passenger rail services, including the San Joaquin service. Support for transferring administrative responsibility of the San Joaquin service to the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority (SJJPA) and of the Pacific Surfliner Service to the LOSSAN JPA as a priority for California State Transportation Agency (CalSTA).

  1. A continued commitment in annual operating funds through the Public Transportation Account (PTA) to meet requirements of federal legislation (PRIIA Section 209) – states must finance the operational costs of intercity passenger rail routes of 750 miles or less. This would require an annual PTA allocation of at least $125 million.
  2. A stable, consistent annual appropriation/ allocation in state capital funds to leverage funds from matching sources (federal, regional, and private). At least $100 million/year in state capital funds is needed to leverage funding for existing needs, with increases necessary to meet future requirements and further expand the system. Support allocating more Cap & Trade funds to be used to expand the California Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
  3. Facilitate, expedite and promote transferring administrative responsibility of the San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliner services to the new JPAs – which includes fully defining the ongoing role for the state with all three state-supported intercity passenger rail services.

Since 1990, California has invested more than $1.3 billion in infrastructure and equipment for intercity passenger rail and about $1 billion in operating support. This financial support helped transform the Pacific Surfliner, the Capitol Corridor, and the San Joaquin services into three of the most successful intercity passenger rail services in the nation. With over 5.5 million annual passengers for fiscal year 2012, California has more than 20 percent of all the nation’s intercity riders. The San Joaquin service carried 1.2 million passengers in FY 14, and has the fifth highest ridership of any intercity service in the nation. Improving California’s Intercity Passenger Rail Program will result in more jobs, improved air quality, less automobile use, enhanced public safety more transportation choices and promotes sustainable development.


As a result of the Governor signing AB 1779 on September 29, 2012, the San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority was established to enable regional governance/management of the San Joaquin intercity passenger rail service. To date, several achievements have been realized and include the following:

  • Selection of the San Joaquin Regional Rail Commission as the Managing Agency
  • Continuing advocacy efforts for the state-supported intercity passenger rail program as a partner in the California Intercity Passenger Rail Leadership Coalition (Capitol Corridor JPA, LOSSAN JPA, Coast Rail Coordinating Council, San Joaquin Valley Rail Committee, and SJJPA).
  • Leadership efforts in working with Senator Jackson and Assemblymember Gray to establish Select Committees in the CA Senate and the Assembly for conventional passenger rail.
  • The adoption of a Joint Policy Statement between SJJPA, Caltrans and the CA High Speed Rail Authority to ensure SJJPA and local member agencies can participate in any alternatives that might impact San Joaquin service.
  • The SJJPA and partnering agencies successfully ensured that intercity rail was included as an important component of ongoing Cap & Trade allocations.


The Issue

The SJV needs a reliable, adequate, water quality supply to sustain a high quality of life and a world-class agricultural sector, while protecting and enhancing the environment.


The SJV’s growing population and expanding economy require an adequate water quality supply that is reliable for all sectors and the environment. The current water supply is inadequate and unsustainable for the future. The rivers found throughout the SJV are valuable natural resources that need to be protected, while developing additional sustainable water supplies. Water and energy are interdependent resources; with one fifth of the state’s energy being used to pump, transport, and treat water. Strategies must be addressed to maximize both these resources. The California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley and several other Valley organizations continue to work towards these water goals.

San Joaquin Water Supply