Millions in federal funding will go toward several community projects, including the widening of a stretch of Maple Avenue in Hesperia, Rep. Jay Obernolte announced Friday.
Obernolte, R-Hesperia, said he secured $11 million for projects across his 8th District — money that is now expected to go, in part, toward boosting infrastructure in places like Adelanto and Apple Valley in addition to Hesperia.
“Rural areas such as California’s 8th District have historically received less funding per capita than urban areas, which is unfair. Securing funds for projects like this is critical to improving the quality of life in rural California and supporting the needs of the people who call our community home,” Obernolte said in a statement.
The funding was made available via requests Obernolte made to the House Appropriations Committee, according to his spokesperson Emily Carlin.
Committee Chair Rose DeLauro announced in February that the committee would begin accepting requests for “Community Project Funding,” formerly known as earmarks.
“Members want Congress to help their communities, particularly now as the pandemic exposed so many inequalities and needs,” DeLauro said at the time. “Community Project Funding will allow Members to put their deep, first-hand understanding of the needs of their communities to work to help the people we represent.”
Earmarks are funds directed toward specific projects without going through a merit-based or competitive process. They were banned in 2011 due to a series of corruption scandals in the late 2000s and have only recently gained renewed support, Business Insider reported in March.
Expanded transparency measures for the funding require, in part, that House members attest that they, their spouse or immediate family members have no financial interest in the projects they request.
Obernolte made 10 requests for community projects, the maximum number allowed. The funding will also go to other 8th District communities, including Bishop, Highland, Needles and Big Bear.
One of the more expensive requests granted was $2 million for street improvements to Maple Avenue.
The money will be used to widen the road to five lanes from Ranchero Road to Main Street and will add traffic signals and “pedestrian and bicycle facilities,” Obernolte’s office said.
“Hesperia’s Maple Avenue Improvement Project is a critical infrastructure project that will benefit the lives of our residents, businesses owners and visitors,” Hesperia Mayor Cameron Gregg said in a statement.
Apple Valley will receive about $1.9 million for the construction of an earthen channel in Desert Knolls Wash, an area just north of Mojave Narrows Regional Park.
Officials said the channel will be designed to slow the flow of water where the wash meets the Mojave River “high water area.”
“The rock bank protected channel will join with the existing concrete lined channel downstream of Apple Valley Road and the Mojave River to stabilize the wash banks and stop erosion from occurring through the Lewis Center (for Educational Research) school area,” Obernolte’s office said.
The appropriations committee also approved $800,000 to improve Adelanto’s wastewater treatment plant.
Obernolte said the plant had begun trying to provide clean water for irrigation purposes in 2010, but original capital investments “failed to yield satisfactory (results) and attempts to provide irrigation water were put on hold.”
The funding is intended to retool and rehabilitate the plant, giving it the ability to meet water treatment goals and allow the city to further conserve the natural resource.
“This funding will not only help us complete an unfinished project, but it will also greatly expand Adelanto’s water distribution capabilities,” said Brian Wolfe, Adelanto’s contracted city engineer. “Additional irrigation water will support a number of community needs, including two future public parks that are ideally situated to benefit from the increased water access.”
Daily Press reporter Martin Estacio may be reached at 760-955-5358 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @DP_mestacio.