Hanford's City Council heard Tuesday from city staff that meeting the 11.47% minimum match required to receive funding from a California Department of Transportation grant could be accomplished with no trouble by using staff hours as an inkind contribution.
The information was presented during an informational study session focusing on the Sustainable Transportation Grant, which could award hundreds of thousands of dollars to Hanford and other local government agencies to advance the High Speed Rail Authority’s Cross Valley Corridor plan.
According to the High Speed Rail Authority at the time the plan was approved in 2018, the goal is to connect local communities by using an existing freight rail corridor. The proposed line stretches from Huron in the west to Porterville in the east, passing through Lemoore, Hanford and Visalia in the process.
The funding would leave the High Speed Rail’s planned Kings/Tulare station, slated to be built on the eastern city limits of Hanford north of Lacey Boulevard, connected to the Cross Valley Corridor while remaining within a few miles of downtown Hanford.
The City of Hanford would be applying for the grant as one partner in a joint application with other government agencies including the Fresno Council of Governments, the California High Speed Rail Authority, the Tulare County Regional Transit Agency and more.
The grant funding would be designed for long-term, sustainable transportation, meaning the money could be used for other items that would encourage the use of more sustainable transportation that lowered emissions, such as the improvement of sidewalks or the creation of new bike lanes.
The application for the grant is due on March 9. City staff said during the session that if the grant was awarded the community would be engaged in spending plans through 1-on-1 meetings with affected parties and at council meetings.
A separate item during the study session examined national lobbying and advocacy efforts, featuring a presentation from Greg Burns at Thorn Run Partners.
Thorn Run Partners is a government affairs and lobbying firm that has been retained by the City of Hanford to advocate for the municipality’s interests on the national level.
Burns pointed to a few federal policy issues he expected Hanford would need to look out for over the coming year, including but not limited to the farm Bbill, the national debt ceiling and disaster recovery.
Burns reviewed the partnership between Thorn Run Partners and the City of Hanford over the previous year. This included connecting city staff with California senators and the completion of certain grants for federal funding, one of which could award the city over $1 million to be used for the construction of a grade separation project on Grangeville Boulevard.
City councilmembers thanked Burns for his work, and asked whether any federal grants received would come with special strings attached. City Manager Mario Cifuentez said there would be no specific requirements attached to the federal funding that the city wasn’t already used to dealing with.