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Leaders lobby in Washington for transportation funds

Five Santa Barbara County leaders are on their way to the nation’s capital to lobby for millions in transportation dollars.

Transportation funds would help with the last phases of the carpool lane project on Highway 101 in south Santa Barbara and Ventura counties.

NewsChannel 3 was able to speak with two members of the group before they left on their cross-country trip to Washington, D.C. on Tuesday.

Drivers on the 101 from Ventura to Santa Barbara drive past construction crews working to create more lanes, specifically for carpoolers.

The total cost for the project is about $425 million and most of the money is local.

“Primarily from Measure A, the local transportation sales tax measure and then also state gas tax funds that come to Santa Barbara County,” explained Gregg Hart with the Santa Barbara Associations of Government.

But $150 million is still needed, which is why members of the SBCAG are going to ask for it from legislative leaders.

“We need to remind them that we have many projects that are shovel-ready. It’s just that we’re in need of funding just like everyone else is. But by making that personal trip to Washington, D.C., we’re able to remind them of it and give them a face of the issues here,” said Roger Aceves, SBCAG co-chair and Goleta mayor.

Aceves along with County Supervisors Janet Wolf and Steve Lavagnino and two SBCAG staff members, will meet with Congresswoman Lois Capps and the staff of Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.

“We’re going to touch as many offices that we can to give some attention to the needs of Santa Barbara County,” said Aceves.

The Highway 101 project, which will add a high-occupancy vehicle lane in each direction, is top priority but it is not the only thing that will be talked about in Washington.

“In addition to the carpool lane, we’re also trying to have a new commuter rail service that would connect Ventura County to south Santa Barbara County,” said Hart.

For the rail service funding, members of the SBCAG delegation will meet with the Federal Railroad Administration.

The group will hold its meetings on Wednesday and Thursday and return to the South Coast on Friday.

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