If bridge-toll hikes are approved by voters, the new revenue will fund transit-improvement projects to relieve traffic congestion in the North Bay.
The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) voted Wednesday to place Regional Measure 3 on the June 2018 ballot.
Major projects in the expenditure plan include: upgrades to relieve congestion and improve State Route 37 in Marin, Sonoma, Napa and Solano counties; completing the widening of U.S. 101 to three lanes in each direction through the Marin-Sonoma Narrows; extending the SMART rail system to Windsor; and upgrading the Dumbarton Bridge corridor.
The measure would fund improvements to State Route 37, State Route 29, Interstate 80, and Transit Access Improvements, among other projects.
The projects would be paid for by increasing tolls on the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges, with a $1 increase beginning Jan. 1, 2019, another $1 increase in January 2022, and another $1 increase in January 2025.
“Nobody likes higher tolls,” said Jake Mackenzie, MTC chair and Rohnert Park city councilmember. “But nobody likes traffic jams or crush-loaded train cars either. The Bay Area has been blessed by several consecutive years of strong economic growth. But the price we’ve paid is the growing congestion on our freeways, railways, buses and ferries. If our region is going to maintain its economic leadership, we have to invest in projects that will keep businesses and their workers moving.”
Other projects in the expenditure plan include: constructing a direct freeway connector from northbound U.S. 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 in Marin County; expansion of BART’s fleet to accommodate record ridership and the system’s pending extension to Milpitas and East San Jose; expanding San Francisco’s fleet of Muni Metro rail cars; and adding more vessels to the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet.
“Regional Measure 3 will invest $4.5 billion to clear highway bottlenecks, expand and modernize BART, bus and ferry transit services, and dramatically improve connections between buses, trains and bikes,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council.