City on feds short list for traffic funds

San Francisco is among nine cities competing for $1.1 billion in federal funding to help the most congested areas combat traffic woes.

The U.S. Department of Transportation had asked cities to make their best case for the funding and on Friday announced that nine cities made it into the semifinals. San Francisco is now competing against Atlanta, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Miami, New York City, San Diego and Seattle. Up to five cities stand to receive a portion of the money when the department announces the winners in mid-August.

The San Francisco County Transportation Authority crafted The City’s funding proposal, which totals $376 million. The proposal includes money for such projects as implementing congestion pricing for Doyle Drive, which would require a payment by drivers who use the heavily trafficked street. The tolls would likely be collected electronically through the use of overhead sensors and not conventional tollbooths. Revenue from the tolls would be used to rebuild the entire road with improvements, including a median barrier.

The funding would also be used to purchase new Muni buses and time displays at bus stops to let riders know when the next bus will arrive. Funding would also pay for new parking meters that accept credit cards as The City annually fails to collect millions of dollars in potential revenue from its meters. The City is also looking at establishing telecommuting opportunities for its 28,000 employees by establishing a system with which they can log into The City’s computer network from home, making the commute into The City unnecessary at times.

“This is about making urban areas livable and economically viable. You can’t have a strong, healthy economy if people are sitting in a world of gridlock,” said Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, chair of the San Francisco County Transportation Authority.

Taken together, the nine cities chosen as semifinalists represent one-third of the highway congestion recorded in the nation’s 85 largest cities and experience 20 percent of all vehicle travel in the United States, according to the department.

jsabatini@examiner.com


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