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Bridge tolls to rise with passage of regional transit measure

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Bridge tolls across the Bay Area will rise by $3 over the next seven years following voter approval Tuesday of Regional Measure 3.

San Francisco voters approved the measure by 65 percent, with 93,023 San Franciscans saying “yes” to the higher bridge tolls. The measure also needed approval from a majority of the Bay Area to pass, a bar that was cleared Wednesday with 54 percent regional approval, according to regional voting data assembled by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Voters in Alameda, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Sonoma counties approved the measure while voters in Solano and Contra Costa counties rejected it, with 100 percent of all county precincts reporting except for Santa Clara county, which reported 97 percent of its precincts.

Tolls on bridges across the Bay Area — except the iconic Golden Gate Bridge, which has its own toll authority — are now set to rise by $1 in 2019, another dollar in 2022, and another dollar in 2025. The Bay Bridge, for instance, will see its commute toll rise from $6 to $9 by 2025.

The funding will be used to bolster transportation projects intended to curtail the Bay Area’s booming traffic.

“We have to play catch up for generational under-investment,” said Gabriel Metcalf, executive director of the think tank SPUR, in a previous interview.

About 75 percent of the funds from Regional Measure 3 will be used for regional transit projects, including in San Francisco. Around $500 million will help fund new BART cars, $140 million will replace and expand Muni’s fleet and facilities and $325 million will help fund the Caltrain extension to the Transbay Transit Center in South of Market.

To prepare for the future, $50 million will go toward studying a potential new underwater Transbay Tube, which could carry BART or Caltrain rail cars.

San Francisco car and shuttle commuters traveling south will also benefit, as the measure will fund improvements to the U.S. Highway 101/SR-92 Interchange and $130 million in improvements to the Dumbarton corridor.

Discounts are required for certain commuters who cross two bridges and discounts may be provided to carpools, according to a ballot measure analysis by the County of Santa Clara. The resolution was placed on the ballot by the Bay Area Toll Authority in January.

The measure’s passage makes the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s budget whole. The agency planned to use $20 million in its recently approved 2019 budget and $35 million from its 2020 budget from the measure, chiefly toward the purchase of new light rail vehicles, buses and other transit improvements.

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