Bridge-Toll Ballot Measure Moves Forward

Following weeks of intensive advocacy in the Bay Area and Sacramento, the California Assembly's Transportation Committee last month approved a bill that could lead to $4.2 billion in new funding to help ease the Bay Area's traffic and commuter nightmare.

BY BC STAFF

 

Following weeks of intensive advocacy in the Bay Area and Sacramento, the California Assembly’s Transportation Committee last month approved a bill that could lead to $4.2 billion in new funding to help ease the Bay Area’s traffic and commuter nightmare.

 

The bill—SB 595, authored by state Sen. Jim Beall—would authorize a regional, nine-county ballot measure in June 2018 for a $3 toll increase on state-run bridges in the Bay Area. A recent poll found that the toll increase is supported by 56 percent of voters.

 

“We’re one step closer to taking a big leap forward in addressing the region’s transportation and traffic crisis,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council. The Bay Area Council is a business-sponsored, public-policy advocacy organization for the nine-county Bay Area.

 

“With the funding that a regional toll increase would generate, we can make important investments to expand mass transit like BART, Caltrain and ferries, ease congestion on traffic-clogged freeways and address the number one frustration plaguing Bay Area commuters,” Wunderman said. “We applaud the Assembly Transportation Committee under the leadership of Chair Jim Frazier for working to create a balanced plan that makes meaningful improvements to the region’s beleaguered transportation system.”

 

With the committee’s approval, the bill now moves to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for a vote and, with approval, to the assembly floor later this summer for final approval before heading to the governor’s desk for his signature. Passage is expected. The passage of SB 595 would set the stage for a regionwide vote in June 2018, which the Bay Area Council would play a leading role in organizing. Voters have approved two previous measures.

       

The Bay Area Council provided key testimony in support of the legislation at last month’s hearing and has worked closely over the past few months with Bay Area legislators and many other stakeholders to shape the spending plan included in SB 595.