ELECTION 2018 San Francisco-area voters to decide June 5 on bridge toll increases

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/31/2018

Decision day is less than one week away for voters in the San Francisco area.

Voters in the city and county of San Francisco and the other eight Bay Area counties will decide on Tuesday, June 5, whether to raise bridge tolls. The additional revenue would help get $4.45 billion in transportation work done over the next 25 years, including a project to reduce truck traffic.

Approval of Regional Measure 3 requires a simple majority of votes cast in all nine counties.

The question has been described as a “comprehensive regional traffic relief plan to reduce commuter congestion.”

For the plan to become reality, voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties must decide to increase toll rates by $3 over six years on the seven state-operated bridges in the area.

The Golden Gate Bridge would be exempt. That bridge is run independently of the state.

The first $1 increase would take effect on Jan. 1. Subsequent $1 increases would be implemented on Jan. 1, 2022, and Jan. 1, 2025.

After 2025, tolls could be increased for inflation.

Approval is touted to benefit 35 projects intended to take vehicles off the road and eliminate bottlenecks on the Bay Area’s most heavily traveled routes.

An estimated $160 million would be designated for projects to reduce truck traffic congestion and mitigate environmental effects.

Eligible projects would include improvements in Alameda County to enable more goods to be shipped by rail, and access improvements to Interstates 580, 80 and 880, and to the Port of Oakland.

A separate project covers I-80 westbound truck scales. Specifically, $105 million would be allotted to “improve freight mobility, reliability, and safety” on the I-80 corridor by funding improvements to the westbound truck scales in Solano County.

Other projects that would benefit from the additional toll revenues include those listed here:

  • BART to San Jose – Extend the Bay Area Rapid Transit to San Jose and Santa Clara.
  • Contra Costa Interstate 680/State Route 4 interchange – New direct connectors and widening of SR 4 to add auxiliary lanes.
  • I-680/I-880/Route 262 Freeway Connector – Improve traffic movement, reduce congestion, and improve operations and safety via a connector in southern Alameda County.

Toll rate increases have been approved by area voters on two occasions. Voters approved $1 toll increases in 1988 and 2004.

The revenue sought via Regional Measure 3 would be in addition to a 10-year, $52 billion statewide transportation funding package approved a year ago by the California Legislature and signed into law by the governor.

The resulting vehicle tax and fee increases, however, could be in trouble. A repeal effort is underway to let voters decide this fall whether they want to void the legislative deal.



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