Improvement to Highway 37 through Napa, Solano and Sonoma counties as well as increased numbers of ferries were among the congestion-abatement elements approved Wednesday by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Bay Area Toll Authority affiliate. But, it's going to cost Bay Area drivers.
Agency members approved a resolution to place on the June 5 ballot in all nine Bay Area counties, a sweeping $4.45 billion package of congestion relief projects known as Regional Measure 3. If approved by a combined majority of all voters, these projects would be financed by a $1 increase in tolls on the Bay Area's seven state-owned toll bridges beginning Jan. 1, 2019, followed by a $1 increase in January 2022 and another $1 increase in January 2025, officials announced.
Interim American Canyon City Manager Jason Holley said he thinks it's a good start, despite the added tolls.
"The additional improvements to Highway 37, and Ferry Service, etc. are all part of a comprehensive solution. RM3 represents one important piece of the transportation funding puzzle that along with last year's SB1, will help alleviate the systemic traffic congestion found in the North Bay," he said. "American Canyon often bears the brunt of regional traffic on Highway 29 and RM3 helps provide a jump start to the necessary long-term solutions to Highway 37 and other routes."
In the meantime, RM3 also provides for a cohesive suite of multi-modal solutions, including funding for the Soscol Junction project and intersection operational improvement on Highway 29 in American Canyon, Holley said.
"These improvements, along with new main-line transit options and efficiency, should decrease the number of peak hour, single occupancy vehicles on Highway 29 which in turn will reduce GHG emissions by reducing travel delay associate with congestion," he said.
The state Legislature developed the RM3 expenditure plan last year, with Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr.'s October 2017 signature on state Senate Bill 595 authorizing Wednesday's action, they said. Major projects in plan include expansion of BART's railcar fleet to accommodate record ridership and the system's pending extension to Milpitas and East San Jose; further extension of BART's Silicon Valley service to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara; extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco; expanding transbay bus services and AC Transit's bus rapid transit lines; constructing a direct freeway connector from northbound U.S. 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 in Marin County, and improving the westbound approach to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge and the I-580/ Richmond Parkway interchange in Contra Costa County. It also includes constructing a direct connector between Interstates 680 and 880 in Fremont; upgrading the I-680/State Route 4 interchange in Contra Costa County, the I-680/State Route 84 interchange in Alameda County and the U.S. 101/State Route 92 interchange in San Mateo; various upgrades 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; extending the new SMART rail system to Windsor; expanding San Francisco's fleet of Muni Metro rail cars; and adding more vessels to the San Francisco Bay Ferry fleet.
RM3 also would provide $50 million for planning and preliminary engineering of a second rail tube connecting the East Bay and San Francisco; and 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. In addition, the measure includes a provision to establish an Inspector General position to oversee BART's capital investments.
For details on the complete range of investments that would be funded if a majority of voters in the nine Bay Area counties approve RM3, go to MTC's web site at http://mtc.ca.gov/our-work/advocate-lead/state-and-federal-advocacy.