ohn F. Foran Legislative Award: – U.S. Representative George Miller
Congressman Boosts Key Bay Area Mobility Improvements During 40-Year Career
October 22, 2014
With U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez) calling a close to his 40-year congressional career at the end of 2014, the Bay Area will lose not just the longest-serving member of its Capitol Hill delegation, but also one of its most influential champions for regional transportation improvements. Miller’s many initiatives to fund and expedite major Bay Area infrastructure projects have earned him the John F. Foran Legislative Award.
Elected to Congress at age 29 as one of the so-called Watergate Babies of 1974, Miller rose to several House leadership positions, including stints as chairman of the Select Committee on Children, Youth and Families (1983–92), the Natural Resources Committee (1992–94), and the Education and Labor Committee (2007–10).
Thanks in large part to Miller’s defense of New Starts program funding for Bay Area projects, the transportation appropriations bill passed by Congress in 1994 brought federal dollars for BART’s extension to San Francisco International Airport and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s Tasman light-rail line. Miller also helped craft the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which delivered crucial support for transit system preservation, pavement rehabilitation and bicycle/pedestrian projects around the region, as well as the new Presidio Parkway in San Francisco, upgrades to Vasco Road in eastern Alameda and Contra Costa counties, and the long-awaited Fourth Bore of the Caldecott Tunnel, for which the congressman cut the ribbon last fall.
The state Legislature in 2007 named the newly completed northbound Benicia-Martinez Bridge the Congressman George Miller Bridge. The tribute was especially meaningful given that the original 1962 span, which now carries southbound traffic and a bicycle/pedestrian path, is named for the congressman’s father, the late George Miller Jr., who represented Contra Costa County in the state Assembly from 1947 to 1948, and in the state Senate from 1949 until his death in 1969. As a congressman, the younger Miller marshaled a multiagency team of engineers who helped overcome delays during construction of the new bridge by devising an innovative bubble curtain to protect migratory fish from pile-driving shock waves. This technique has since become standard for underwater construction projects.
“I’m proud of what I have been able to accomplish on behalf of children, working people and the environment, in my district and for our country,” reflected Miller at the time of his retirement announcement earlier this year. “I have not won every fight that I have waged. And there remain, of course, many critical challenges waiting to be addressed. But I have no regrets about what I have accomplished and what I have tried to accomplish in the public interest.”
— John Goodwin