Two years after voters in the nine-county Bay Area agreed to hike tolls on the region's seven state-owned bridges, regional business leaders are hoping they will approve a one-cent regional sales tax to fund $100 billion in transportation projects.
State and county officials gathered on Friday to celebrate the start of a $514 million project to convert carpool lanes to express lanes and connect auxiliary lanes to make for a lane addition. The 32-mile project on Highway 101 opens in 2022.
A California taxpayers association has challenged the June passage of a regional ballot measure because it didn't receive two-thirds support from voters, although two prior voter-approved bridge toll increases also fell short of a super-majority.
With national media focused on individual candidates, propositions that dealt with park and water bonds, transportation spending, cap-and-trade, and rainwater may have been overlooked. Plus, a measure to increase bridge tolls in the Bay Area.
In December, Sen. Dianne Feinstein reactivated her call for a southern crossing over the Bay while the BART Board last week began studying a second Transbay tube. The San Francisco Chronicle editorial board opines on which is preferable.
A modest toll increase, $3 over six years, took a major step forward with the approval of a key Bay Area Toll Authority committee. With the exception of the Bay Bridge, the round-trip toll on each of the region's seven state-owned bridges is $5.
It is now up to the Bay Area's transportation planning agency to determine when to ask voters to hike tolls on seven Bay Area bridges, by how much, and whether to phase the increase. A bill to allow voters to fund Caltrain was also signed.
The California Legislature approved bills to allow voters to decide on hiking sales taxes and tolls for regional transportation. Gov. Jerry Brown already signed a bill to allow San Mateo County voters to hike sales taxes for transportation.
The oldest commuter rail line west of the Mississippi is also unique in another way—it lacks a dedicated source of operating revenue. Legislation has been introduced to allow Peninsula counties to vote to increase sales taxes by 0.125 percent.
Before the ballot measure would go to voters, state legislation needs to be written, passed, and signed by Gov. Brown. The first step was taken Dec. 14, when the region's planning agency discussed the option. Tolls are $5, last raised $1 in 2010.