ELECTION 2016: San Francisco-area locales to decide on transportation questions

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 8/9/2016

Voters in one of California’s largest metropolitan areas will soon decide on aid for roads, bridges and transit.

The Nov. 8 ballot in Contra Costa County is set to include multiple questions to raise revenue for transportation projects.

One question will ask voters countywide whether to approve a half-cent sales tax to pay for a 30-year, $2.9 billion expenditure plan. The increase would double the county’s existing transportation sales tax.

The Contra Costa Transportation Authority has highlighted projects that would benefit from the new revenue. They include plans to reduce congestion; improve Bay Area Rapid Transit, bus, ferry, and train service; repair local roads; and benefit pedestrian paths.

About 27 percent of the new revenue – or $770 million – would be allotted for improving BART, including high-capacity transit improvements along the Interstate 80 corridor. Nearly 21 percent – or $595 million – would be used to reduce congestion and smooth traffic along the I-680 and state Route 24 corridor.

Another $684 million – about 24 percent – would be earmarked for fixing local streets and roads.

Each jurisdiction would receive a base allocation of $100,000. The remaining balance would be distributed based partly on relative population and partly on road miles for each jurisdiction.

Additionally, $290 million would be used for projects that reduce highway congestion and new technology to improve traffic light synchronization.

A two-thirds majority vote is needed for the question to pass.

If approved, the BART funding would bolster a separate $3.5 billion bond measure for infrastructure improvements included on ballots in Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco counties.

To pay for work that is estimated to take more than two decades to complete, residential and commercial property owners in the affected areas would face a projected increase of $8.98 per $100,000 of assessed value. The bond program would last for 40 years.

Proceeds of the bond measure could not be used to support general operating needs. A provision is included in the measure for an independent annual audit of how the proceeds are spent.

To take effect, two-thirds of all voters in the counties would need to cast ballots in favor of the question.

For more 2016 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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