(Examiner file photo)

(Examiner file photo)

Bay Area mayors pledge support for bridge toll hike

The mayors of the three largest Bay Area cities today announced their support for a regional measure that aims to help solve the Bay Area’s traffic woes by raising tolls by as much as $3 on the region’s seven bridges.

During a news conference at the San Francisco Ferry Building Monday, San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo all voiced their support for the measure.

Regional Measure 3 would use revenue from a phased-in toll increase on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges to fund a $4.5 billion slate of highway and transit improvements in the toll bridge corridors and their approach routes.

“Everybody in San Francisco knows that our infrastructure and transportation system is struggling. Our trains are more crowded than ever before, our buses are more crowded than ever before… our roads are more congested than they have ever been,” Farrell said. “RM 3 is a game changer, not only for San Francisco, but for the Bay Area.”

Some the projects include the purchase of the new BART cars, extending BART’s Silicon Valley service to Santa Clara, extending Caltrain to downtown San Francisco, expanding the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s bus fleet, expanded ferry service, building a direct highway connector between northbound U.S. Highway 101 and the Richmond San Rafael Bridge in Marin County and improving state Highway 37 between Sonoma and Solano Counties, among many other projects.

“This region needs help. RM 3 is about saving the planet and saving our sanity. As commuters here in the Bay Area, we are tired of being jammed up and kept away from our families while we wait in traffic on Bay Area roads,” Schaaf said.

“When I look at these investments, it’s not just as a mayor, but as a steward for this whole region,” Schaaf, who is also a commissioner for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, said.

“In Silicon Valley, we’re certainly proud to lead in the development of supercomputers, but here in the Bay Area, we also lead in the supercommuters – commuters who spend at least 90 minutes to get to work on any given day,” Liccardo said.

“The time is certainly overdue for regional thinking and thinking action,” Liccardo, who also serves as an MTC commissioner, said. “The Bay Area has very unique problems and requires specific, thoughtful and comprehensive solutions by and for the Bay Area.”

According to the measure, the region’s state-owned bridges would see a $1 toll increase starting on Jan. 1, 2019, then another $1 increase in January 2022 and a final $1 increase in January 2025.

Tolls haven’t increased on the bridges since 2010.

The Golden Gate Bridge, which is owned by a separate authority, would not be affected by the toll increase.

Opponents of the measure have argued that the increase on bridge tolls would be a strain on middle-income Bay Area residents who travel on bridges daily to get to work.PoliticsTransit

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