On March 30th, WTS Sacramento welcomed Diane Nguyen, Executive Director of San Joaquin Council of Governments (SJCOG), James Corless, Executive Director of Sacramento Area Council of Governments (SACOG), Kenneth Kao, Assistant Director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), and Andrew Hwang, Manager of Maritime Business Development at the Port of Oakland. This lunch program on the Northern California Megaregion was the first jointly hosted by the WTS Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Area, and Central California Chapters and was attended by more than 130 professionals across the three chapters.
Diane Nguyen opened the lunch program with a description of the history and purpose of the Northern California Megaregion Working Group. Although the 16-county working group has only been working under a formal Memorandum of Understanding for a few years, SACOG, SJCOG, and MTC have a long history of partnering to improve travel between the three regions. Diane described the regions initial goal to be more strategic about transportation investments, regardless of county boundaries. Diane described the origin of the "Megaregion Dozen" a list of 12 projects across the three regions that the working group is jointly pursuing for funding across local, state, and federal competitive programs. She described how MTC, SJCOG, and SACOG, staff worked together to narrow down the regions' many planned improvements to the 12 projects with the greatest interregional benefit, strategic vision, and ability to leverage funding. After this introduction, Kenneth Kao walked through the list of priority projects. For transit, the Megaregion Dozen includes two projects to increase frequency along the Capitol Corridor passenger rail line, two projects to expand the reach of the Altamont Corridor Express passenger rail line, and the new Valley Link passenger rail line connecting Dublin and Lathrop. For highways, the Megaregion dozen includes three express lanes projects along Interstate 80, Highway 50, Interstate 5, and Interstate 205, a truck scales project along I-80, and interchange upgrades at various locations in San Joaquin County. Andrew Hwang then provided an update on the critical needs at the Port of Oakland to improve supply chain through the Megaregion, including a green power microgrid, barge turnaround expansions, and grade separations. James Corless closed the presentation by describing the migration within the region that has been exacerbated by COVID-19. He indicated that growing connections between the Bay Area, Sacramento Area, and Central Valley makes investing in these dozen priority projects even more important. WTS Sacramento looks forward to planning future joint lunch programs with WTS San Francisco Bay Area and WTS Central California.