ELECTION 2018: San Francisco area voters approve bridge toll increases

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/6/2018

Voters in the San Francisco area decided on Tuesday to pay more to cross bridges, securing more money for transportation work throughout the region.

By a 54 percent to 46 percent margin, voters in the city and county of San Francisco and the other eight Bay Area counties approved a question to double bridge tolls. The additional revenue has been touted as helping 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 required 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.”

A majority of voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties agreed to increase toll rates by $3 over six years on the seven state-operated bridges in the area.

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

The first $1 increase will take effect on Jan. 1. Subsequent $1 increases will 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 will be designated for projects to reduce truck traffic congestion and mitigate environmental effects.

Among the eligible projects:

  • improvements in Alameda County to enable more goods to be shipped by rail;
  • access improvements to Interstates 580, 80, and 880; and
  • upgrades to the Port of Oakland.

A separate project covers I-80 westbound truck scales. Specifically, $105 million will 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 will benefit from the additional toll revenues:

  • 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.

The revenue included via Regional Measure 3 is 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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