What to expect with Regional Measure 3

Regional Measure 3, which is winning in the vote count, will raise state bridge tolls a total of three dollars, phased in over six years until 2025. In return, the public gets 63 Bay Area wide projects, some specific to each county, while others are from county to county, such as new BART cars, express lanes, bridge improvements and plans for another BART tube or rail crossing across the Bay. 

All of these projects are future looking with some that will take years while others are shovel ready right now. The first improvements that will get underway are on the rail and bus transit front, even before the tolls actually increase.    

"Within probably a few weeks, Muni can pull the trigger and actually buy some additional vehicles. BART will be acquiring some 300 additional cars over time," said John Goodwin of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Those 300 new BART cars are above and beyond the 775 already under contract and will add capacity to future BART expansions, especially in the South Bay.

But what about shovel ready road improvements? 

"The first of those projects will get under construction in 2019," said Mr. Goodwin. Probably first up is more quickly finishing the widening of the clogged Highway 101 Marin/Sonoma Narrows. Expanding the SMART train north of Santa Rosa may begin next year.         

Work on the Cordelia Junction bottleneck on Interstate 80 could also begin next year plus the addition of more express lanes that will eventually be placed on most freeways. Planning for a direct connector from Highway 101 to Interstate 580 across the bridge to Richmond should begin next year.  

Expect more emphasis on projects such as traffic over and under passes that will allow trucks and freight trains to move more freely through the region. 

"That's a really important part of the mobility puzzle. Not necessarily big ticket projects but things that make the whole system operate more efficiently," said Goodwin.

Also coming: expanded regional express bus service to reduce congestion. Doubled frequency of ferry service, new routes and terminals in the North, Central and South Bay are on tap. Improvements to bike and pedestrian access on and around state-owned bridges connected to bus and ferry terminals will also take place.

And so, another buck in 2019, a second buck in 2022 and the final buck in 2025. But people are expecting that these projects are going to take place on time and on budget. And skeptics like Congressman Mark Desaulnier are going to be watching like a hawk. 

"And a lot of those folks are people from my district who did not support Regional Measure 3," said Congressman Mark DeSaulnier/(D) Concord. He questions many of the proposed projects.

"The project list was devised more for political relationships than what would benefit the commuter," said the Congressman.