Governor Signs Toll Bill, Puts Comprehensive Traffic Relief Plan on Bay Area Ballot | News

News Release

Governor Signs Toll Bill, Puts Comprehensive Traffic Relief Plan on Bay Area Ballot

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
John Goodwin, 415-778-5262
Rebecca Long, 415-778-5289

Governor Brown’s action today to sign into law Senate Bill 595 clears the way for Bay Area voters to decide – potentially as early as next June – on Regional Measure 3 (RM 3), which would raise tolls by up to $3 on the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges to finance the sweeping $4.5 billion package of congestion relief and mobility improvement projects identified in the bill. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), in its role as the Bay Area Toll Authority, is expected to decide by early 2018 when the RM 3 question will appear on ballots in the nine Bay Area counties. The Commission also will decide the amount of the proposed toll increase and whether the proposed increase would be instituted all at once or phased in over several years.

The RM 3 expenditure plan provides mobility improvements in each of the region’s seven state-owned bridge corridors, helping to speed up commutes and provide better travel options, particularly for those traveling to major job hubs, such as San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The plan includes numerous congestion relief projects in the bridge corridors, including new express lanes, a direct freeway connector from northbound U.S. 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 in Marin County to improve access to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge as well as improvements to the westbound approach in Contra Costa County; constructing a direct connector between Interstates 680 and 880 in Fremont and improvements to the I-680/State Route 84 interchange in Alameda County serving the Dumbarton Bridge; upgrading the I-680/State Route 4 interchange in Contra Costa County serving the Benicia Bridge corridor and the U.S. 101/State Route 92 interchange in San Mateo serving the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge; various improvements to relieve congestion in the Dumbarton Bridge corridor 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. Major public transit improvements that would be funded by the measure include 306 new BART cars that will expand the fleet to accommodate record ridership; new ferries and expanded service and terminals across San Francisco Bay; further extension of BART’s Silicon Valley service to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara; extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco; expanding transbay bus service and AC Transit’s bus rapid transit lines serving the transbay corridor; extending the new SMART rail system to Windsor; and expanding San Francisco’s fleet of Muni Metro rail cars to improve transit access not just to San Francisco, but within it as well. RM 3 also would fund a $150 million grant program to improve bicycle and pedestrian access to regional transit hubs and to close gaps in the San Francisco Bay Trail.

“Nobody likes higher tolls,” commented MTC Chair and Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie. “But nobody likes traffic jams or crush-loaded train cars either. The Bay Area has been blessed by seven straight years of strong economic growth. But the price we’ve paid is the growing congestion on our freeways, railways 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. Gov. Brown and the state Legislature deserve a lot of credit for shaping RM 3 into a comprehensive and integrated strategy that will modernize both our highways and our transit networks.”

For details on the complete range of investments that would be funded if a majority of voters in the nine Bay Area counties approve RM 3, click here

MTC is the transportation planning, financing, and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

This proposed increase stinks. As a resident of Benicia who works in the East Bay, I am a heavy bridge user. There is no other option for me. I can't not use bridges extensively. This bridge toll increase is nothing more than an unjust tax on certain people based on geography. A person living and working in Marin, for example, would benefit greatly and pay nothing. Nada. Zippo. I would, on the other hand, pay hundreds of dollars more a year, and likely benefit less. I oppose this increase in the strongest possible terms, and will actively work against it. Make everyone pay- tax per mile car use, all roadway use- something. Making bridge users fund the entire bill STINKS!!!
Per mile, bridges cost FAR more to build and maintain than other roads. In addition, they are chokepoints - there are usually few close alternatives (as you yourself have pointed out). Thus, they are often congested, as are the roads that feed them on each side. So charging more for them is fair. By the way, when you say "there is no other option for me", that is wrong. Nobody held a gun to your head and told you to live where you do or work where you do. You optimized your own situation (presumably!). You do exhibit the real problem with modern American times - the unwillingness of people now to invest in the future, instead merely living off of past generations' sacrifices.
Ron, if you are talking about the Benicia-Martinez Bridge..plenty of the toll money funds went into building the parallel bridge. You are definitely a beneficiary of the tolls that are being collected. You even have the option of walking or riding across the bridge, options that allow you to commute to work by alternative means. Some other bridges in the Bay don't even have the luxury of alternative transportation. I don't mean to be against you at all because the way you talk about the bridge tolls being inequitable is very much true. I do agree with with a vehicle-mile tax and that tolls should be imposed across all users and we should all contribute to the infrastructure together. If we are going to continue to sprawl and spread throughout California, we better commit to better local/regional rail and ferry systems.
There is absolutely no way congestion can be relieved on the San Mateo - Hayward Bridge for Alameda County residents working in San Mateo County. Improvements across the 7 bridge connections are not equal. In terms of the San Mateo - Hayward Bridge, this is the most geographically challenged as it covers the longest distance of any bridge in California, making the cost for improvements much higher than other locations. The San Mateo - Hayward Bridge has no room for expansion, no room for express toll lanes, and no room for bus express lanes. The bridge was built in 1929 with 50 years of foresight maybe?. Of course the engineers of the 1920's could not have predicted the explosive growth of the Bay Area, we can't fault them. We can however, fault the planners, engineers, politicians, and even ourselves the citizens for not fighting harder for an alternative modes of transportation and affordable housing. There is explosive growth happening in the San Mateo County region, you can even call it Silicon Valley's northern expansion. The more this region grows, the more people it will attract with jobs and this will only translate to more vehicle congestion. If you live in Alameda County or generally commute from East to West and use the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge as your main commuter route, vote against any proposed raise in bridge tolls unless there are proposed measures, studies, or plans that will directly impact and improve your commute. Stop settling for the short end of the stick. Demand for better options such as: ferry service, exclusive bicycle lanes, better and more frequent transbay bus services, or even a new BART tunnel. We lose billions of dollars due to congestion, why not use that money toward improvement and efficiency?
I would like MTC to conduct a study on tolls in the Bay Area. It seems to me that the bridge toll system places a higher, disproportionate burden on lower and middle income Bay Area residents, and allows many, perhaps the majority of, wealthy/high income Bay Area residents to largely avoid the burden of maintaining the bridges and roadways. All tolls are paid by vehicles traveling westward. During the week days, I would imagine that the majority of vehicles are occupied by commuters who work in San Francisco, Marin, and all points west. I also suspect that most commuters cannot afford to live where they work. Thus, there must be a disproportionate impact on lower and middle income Bay Area residents when tolls are raised. It seems unjust that low and middle income people may be more heavily and disproportionately taxed for the necessity of having to commute to their jobs, because they cannot afford to live in the exorbitantly expensive communities where their jobs (i.e., most of the best jobs available) are located. MTC should study the issue and come up with more fair mechanisms for funding the region's transportation infrastructure.
Virtually every car that travels westward eventually goes east, so I don't grasp your concept here.

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