Commuter traffic at the Bay Bridge toll plaze pictured during the July 2013 BART strike. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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Editor’s note: A version of this post appears in our roundup of last-minute votes in the state Legislature.

If you live in the Bay Area, you’ll be hearing a lot about Senate Bill 595 over the next year or so. If you’re a regular user of any of the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges — that’s all of them, except the Golden Gate Bridge — you’ll want to pay close attention.

SB 595, which won final passage Thursday and now awaits Gov. Jerry Brown’s signature, provides for a vote in the nine Bay Area counties next year to raise bridge tolls by as much as $3. If the Bay Area Toll Authority, the agency that oversees the bridges, seeks that maximum $3 increase, tolls for a single crossing would be as high as $9 — the potential rush-hour tab for a trip across the Bay Bridge. (If you’re hyperventilating, just remember we’re still not in Verrazano-Narrows Bridge territory; the cash toll on the span between Brooklyn and Staten Island rose to $17 earlier this year.)

The higher tolls would pay for nearly three dozen transit and highway projects totaling $4.45 billion over the next 25 years. The complete list is at the end of this post, but highlights include:

  • BART would get $500 million to help pay for an expanded fleet of new-generation rail cars.
  • BART would get $50 million for preliminary design and engineering work on a second transbay crossing.
  • The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority would get $375 million, part of what it needs to build a planned BART extension to downtown San Jose.
  • Some $325 million would go to a long-dreamed-of Caltrain extension from San Francisco’s far-South of Market to downtown.
  • The Bay Area’s Water Emergency Transportation Authority would get $300 to pay for new boats and dock facilities.
  • On the highway side, $300 million in toll proceeds would go to building new paid express lanes on Bay Area freeways.
  • Another $1.1 billion would go to rebuilding interchanges and improving the most heavily traveled highway corridors.

Beyond the proposed spending, the bill’s most notable feature might be a provision put forward by longtime BART critic Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, to create a new inspector general position that would have sweeping authority to watch over the agency’s finances and performance.

A long list of local officials, unions, business and urban planning groups supported SB 595 as crucial for dealing with current and future transportation challenges in the Bay Area.

“This bill gives the Bay Area the bold plan it needs for the future,’’ Sen. Beall, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement after the proposal finally made it through the Assembly on Wednesday. He added that the measure is especially important in Silicon Valley.

“On weekdays, an average of 602,000 vehicles enter and exit the Bay Area,” Beall said. “With the expansion of tech firms, such as Google and Apple, those numbers will grow. Let’s take action now to curb traffic before it becomes worse.”

So, what’s not to like in this picture?

Several Contra Costa County legislators — Assemblymember Tim Grayson and Congressman Mark DeSaulnier among them — opposed SB 595, saying that it’s 1) a regressive tax and 2) a ripoff for the residents of the East Bay.

Their main argument — both DeSaulnier and Grayson penned op-ed pieces for the East Bay Times — is that residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties will pay significantly more in increased tolls than their communities will get back in benefits.

Grayson said after SB 595 passed the Assembly that while he understood the need for infrastructure upgrades in the Bay Area, “there is a fundamental lack of equity in this proposal. … East Bay commuters deserve a better and far more just measure.”

DeSaulnier, who has vowed to fight the toll increase as it heads to the ballot next year as Regional Measure 3, said he feels the long shopping list of projects in bill is the result of what he termed a politically driven planning process on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

“It’s frustrating that such an innovative area is so backward when it comes to transportation,” DeSaulnier said.

Here’s the comprehensive list of projects to be funded under SB 595, as detailed in the bill:

1. BART Expansion Cars. Purchase new railcars for the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) to expand its fleet and improve reliability. The project sponsor is the BART. Five hundred million dollars ($500,000,000).

2. Bay Area Corridor Express Lanes. Fund the environmental review, design, and construction of express lanes to complete the Bay Area Express Lane Network, including supportive operational improvements to connecting transportation facilities. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, express lanes on Interstate 80, Interstate 580, and Interstate 680 in the Counties of Alameda and Contra Costa, Interstate 880 in the County of Alameda, Interstate 280 in the City and County of San Francisco, Highway 101 in the City and County of San Francisco and the County of San Mateo, State Route 84 and State Route 92 in the Counties of Alameda and San Mateo, Interstate 80 from Red Top Road to the intersection with Interstate 505 in the County of Solano, and express lanes in the County of Santa Clara. Eligible project sponsors include the Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority, and any countywide or multicounty agency in a bay area county that is authorized to implement express lanes. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission shall make funds available based on performance criteria, including benefit-cost and project readiness. Three hundred million dollars ($300,000,000).

3. Goods Movement and Mitigation. Provide funding to reduce truck traffic congestion and mitigate its environmental effects. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, improvements in the County of Alameda to enable more goods to be shipped by rail, access improvements on Interstate 580, Interstate 80, and Interstate 880, and improved access to the Port of Oakland. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission shall consult and coordinate with the Alameda County Transportation Commission to select projects for the program. Eligible applicants include cities, counties, countywide transportation agencies, rail operators, and the Port of Oakland. The project sponsor is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Alameda County Transportation Commission. One hundred sixty million dollars ($160,000,000).

4. San Francisco Bay Trail/Safe Routes to Transit. Provide funding for a competitive grant program to fund bicycle and pedestrian access improvements on and in the vicinity of the state-owned toll bridges connecting to rail transit stations and ferry terminals. Eligible applicants include cities, counties, transit operators, school districts, community colleges, and universities. The project sponsor is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. One hundred fifty million dollars ($150,000,000).

5. Ferry Enhancement Program. Provide funding to purchase new vessels, upgrade and rehabilitate existing vessels, build facilities and landside improvements, and upgrade existing facilities. The project sponsor is the San Francisco Bay Area Water Emergency Transportation Authority. Three hundred million dollars ($300,000,000).

6. BART to San Jose Phase 2. Extend BART from Berryessa Station to San Jose and Santa Clara. The project sponsor is the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Three hundred seventy-five million dollars ($375,000,000).

7. Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District (SMART). Provide funding to extend the rail system north of the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport to the Cities of Windsor and Healdsburg. The project sponsor is the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District. Forty million dollars ($40,000,000).

8. Capitol Corridor. Provide funding for track infrastructure that will improve the performance of Capital Corridor passenger rail operations by reducing travel times, adding service frequencies, and improving system safety and reliability. The project sponsor is the Capital Corridor Joint Powers Authority. Ninety million dollars ($90,000,000).

9. Caltrain Downtown Extension. Extend Caltrain from its current terminus at Fourth Street and King Street to the Transbay Transit Center. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission shall allocate funding to the agency designated to build the project, which shall be the project sponsor. Three hundred twenty-five million dollars ($325,000,000).

10. Muni Fleet Expansion and Facilities. Fund replacement and expansion of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s MUNI vehicle fleet and associated facilities. The project sponsor is the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency. One hundred forty million dollars ($140,000,000).

11. Core Capacity Transit Improvements. Implement recommendations from the Core Capacity Transit Study and other ideas to maximize person throughput in the transbay corridor. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, transbay bus improvements and high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lane access improvements. Priority funding shall be the Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District’s (AC Transit) Tier 1 and Tier 2 projects identified in the study. The project sponsors are the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Alameda County Transportation Commission, and AC Transit. One hundred forty million dollars ($140,000,000).

12. Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District (AC Transit) Rapid Bus Corridor Improvements. Fund bus purchases and capital improvements to reduce travel times and increase service frequency along key corridors. The project sponsors are AC Transit and Alameda County Transportation Commission. One hundred million dollars ($100,000,000).

13. Transbay Rail Crossing. Fund preliminary engineering, environmental review, and design of a second transbay rail crossing and its approaches to provide additional rail capacity, increased reliability, and improved resiliency to the corridor. Subject to approval by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, funds may also be used for construction, and, if sufficient matching funds are secured, to fully fund a useable segment of the project. The project sponsor is the Bay Area Rapid Transit District. Fifty million dollars ($50,000,000).

14. Tri-Valley Transit Access Improvements. Provide interregional and last-mile transit connections on the Interstate 580 corridor in the County of Alameda within the Tri-Valley area of Dublin, Pleasanton, and Livermore. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission shall consult with the Alameda County Transportation Commission, the Bay Area Rapid Transit District, and local jurisdictions to determine the project sponsor. One hundred million dollars ($100,000,000).

15. Eastridge to BART Regional Connector. Extend Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail from the Alum Rock station to the Eastridge Transit Center. The project sponsor is the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. One hundred thirty million dollars ($130,000,000).

16. San Jose Diridon Station. Redesign, rebuild, and expand Diridon Station to more efficiently and effectively accommodate existing regional rail services, future BART and high-speed rail service, and Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail and buses. The project sponsor shall consider accommodating a future connection to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport and prioritizing non-auto access modes. The project sponsor is the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. One hundred million dollars ($100,000,000).

17. Dumbarton Corridor Improvements. Fund planning, environmental review, design, and construction of capital improvements within Dumbarton Bridge and rail corridor in the Counties of Alameda and San Mateo to relieve congestion, increase person throughput, and offer reliable travel times. Eligible projects include, but are not limited to, the projects recommended in the Dumbarton Corridor Transportation Study and improvements to facilitate rail and transit connectivity among the Altamont Corridor Express, Capitol Corridor, and Bay Area Rapid Transit District, including a rail connection at Shinn Station. The project sponsors are the Bay Area Toll Authority, Alameda County Transportation Commission, the San Mateo County Transit District, and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. One hundred thirty million dollars ($130,000,000).

18. Highway 101/State Route 92 Interchange. Fund improvements to the interchange of Highway 101 and State Route 92 in the County of San Mateo. The project is jointly sponsored by the City/County Association of Governments of San Mateo County and the San Mateo County Transportation Authority. Fifty million dollars ($50,000,000).

19. Contra Costa Interstate 680/State Route 4 Interchange Improvements. Fund improvements to the Interstate 680/State Route 4 interchange to improve safety and reduce congestion, including, but not limited to, a new direct connector between northbound Interstate 680 and westbound State Route 4, a new direct connector between eastbound State Route 4 and southbound Interstate 680, and widening of State Route 4 to add auxiliary lanes and high-occupancy vehicle lanes. The project sponsor is the Contra Costa Transportation Authority. Two hundred ten million dollars ($210,000,000).

20. U.S. 101-Marin/Sonoma Narrows. Construct northbound and southbound high-occupancy vehicle lanes on U.S. 101 between Petaluma Boulevard South in Petaluma and Atherton Avenue in Novato. The project sponsors are the Transportation Authority of Marin and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. One hundred twenty million dollars ($120,000,000).

21. Solano County Interstate 80/Interstate 680/State HIghway 12 Interchange Project. Construct Red Top Road interchange and westbound Interstate 80 to southbound Interstate 680 connector. The project sponsor is the Solano Transportation Authority. One hundred fifty million dollars ($150,000,000).

22. Interstate 80 Westbound Truck Scales. Improve freight mobility, reliability, and safety on the Interstate 80 corridor by funding improvements to the Interstate 80 Westbound Truck Scales in the County of Solano. The project sponsor is the Solano Transportation Authority. One hundred five million dollars ($105,000,000).

23. State Highway 37 Improvements. Fund near-term and longer-term improvements to State Highway 37 to improve the roadway’s mobility, safety, and long-term resiliency to sea level rise and flooding. For the purposes of the environmental review and design, the project shall include the segment of State Highway 37 from the intersection in Marin County with U.S. 101 to the intersection with Interstate 80 in the County of Solano. Capital funds may used on any segment along this corridor, as determined by the project sponsors. The project is jointly sponsored by the Transportation Authority of Marin, the Napa Valley Transportation Authority, the Solano Transportation Authority, and the Sonoma County Transportation Authority. Funds for this project may be allocated to any of the project sponsors. One hundred million dollars ($100,000,000)

24. San Rafael Transit Center. Construct a replacement to the San Rafael (Bettini) Transit Center on an existing or new site, or both, in downtown San Rafael. The selected alternative shall be approved by the City of San Rafael, the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, the Transportation Authority of Marin, and Marin Transit. The project sponsor is the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District. Thirty million dollars ($30,000,000).

25. Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Access Improvements. Fund eastbound and westbound improvements in the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge corridor, including a direct connector from northbound Highway 101 to eastbound Interstate 580, westbound access and operational improvements in the vicinity of the toll plaza east of the bridge in Contra Costa County, and Richmond Parkway interchange improvements. Of the amount allocated to this project, one hundred thirty-five million dollars ($135,000,000) shall be dedicated to the direct connector from northbound Highway 101 to eastbound Interstate 580 in Marin County and seventy-five million dollars ($75,000,000) shall be dedicated to the projects in Contra Costa County. The project sponsors are the Bay Area Toll Authority, the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, and the Transportation Authority of Marin. Two hundred ten million dollars ($210,000,000).

26. North Bay Transit Access Improvements. Provide funding for transit improvements, including, but not limited to, bus capital projects, including vehicles, transit facilities, and access to transit facilities, benefiting the Counties of Marin, Sonoma, Napa, Solano, and Contra Costa. Priority shall be given to projects that are fully funded, ready for construction, and serving rail transit or transit service that operates primarily on existing or fully funded high-occupancy vehicle lanes. The project sponsor is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Eligible applicants are any transit operator providing service in the Counties of Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, Solano, or Sonoma. One hundred million dollars ($100,000,000).

27. State Highway 29. Eligible project expenses include State Highway 29 major intersection improvements, including Soscol Junction, and signal and signage improvements, which may include multimodal infrastructure and safety improvements between Carneros Highway (State Highway 12/121) and American Canyon Road. The project sponsor is the Napa Valley Transportation Authority. Twenty million dollars ($20,000,000).

28. Next-Generation Clipper Transit Fare Payment System.
Provide funding to design, develop, test, implement, and transition to the next generation of Clipper, the bay area’s transit fare payment system. The next-generation system will support a universal, consistent, and seamless transit fare payment system for the riders of transit agencies in the bay area. The project sponsor is the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. Fifty million dollars ($50,000,000).

29. Interstate 680/Interstate 880/Route 262 Freeway Connector. Connect Interstate 680 and Interstate 880 in southern Alameda County to improve traffic movement, reduce congestion, and improve operations and safety. The project sponsor is the Alameda County Transportation Commission. Fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000).

30. Interstate 680/State Highway 84 Interchange Reconstruction Project. Improve safety and regional and interregional connectivity by conforming State Highway 84 to expressway standards between south of Ruby Hill Drive and the Interstate 680 interchange in southern Alameda County and implementing additional improvements to reduce weaving and merging conflicts and help address the additional traffic demand between Interstate 680 and State Highway 84. The project sponsor is Alameda County Transportation Commission. Eighty-five million dollars ($85,000,000).

31. Interstate 80 Transit Improvements. Fund improvements to support expanded bus service in the Interstate 80 corridor including, but not limited to, bus purchases, expansion of the WestCAT storage yard and maintenance facility. Fund implementation of the San Pablo Avenue Multi-modal Corridor (AC Transit). The project sponsor is Contra Costa Transportation Authority. Twenty-five million dollars ($25,000,000).

32. Byron Highway-Vasco Road Airport Connector. Fund construction of a new connector between Byron Highway and Vasco Road south of Camino Diablo Road as well as shoulder and other improvements to the Byron Highway, including a railroad grade separation, to improve safety and access to the Byron Airport and to facilitate economic development and access for goods movement in East Contra Costa County. The project sponsor is Contra Costa Transportation Authority. Ten million dollars ($10,000,000).

33. Vasco Road Safety Improvements. Fund the widening of lanes and construction of a concrete median barrier along 2.5 miles of Vasco Road beginning approximately three miles north of the Contra Costa/Alameda County Line. The project sponsor is Contra Costa Transportation Authority. Fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000).

24. East Contra Costa County Transit Intermodal Center. Fund the construction of a Transit Intermodal Center in Brentwood enhancing access to eBART and Mokelumne Bike Trail/Pedestrian Overcrossing at State Route 4. The project sponsor is Contra Costa Transportation Authority. Fifteen million dollars ($15,000,000).

35. Interstate 680 Transit Improvements. Fund improvements that will enhance transit service in the Interstate 680 corridor, including, but not limited to, implementing bus operations on shoulder (BOS), technology-based intermodal transit centers/managed parking lots and development of technology to enhance real-time travel information. Fund implementation of Shared Autonomous Vehicles (SAVs) to improve first and last mile transit connectivity. The project sponsor is Contra Costa Transportation Authority. Ten million dollars ($10,000,000).

36. Transit Operating Support: The measure provides up to $60 million a year to support the operations of future regional express buses, the new Transbay Transit Center and expansions of of the Water Emergency Transportation Authorities ferries. WETA, which operates the San Francisco Bay Ferry system, would get the lion’s share of that money — as much as $40 million in operating support in coming years.

$4.4 Billion Bay Area Transportation Plan — to Be Paid for by Higher Bridge Tolls — Sent to Governor 18 September,2017Dan Brekke

  • Kevin Withers

    Nope. No. Not going to vote for this regressive, MTC bloated robbery of bridge crossers. #disolveMTC

  • shamelessly

    Well there’s too much road building in it, but it pays out toward a number of transit projects the region vitally needs, including the new BART tube, the BART extension to San Jose, and bringing CalTrain to downtown SF. So on balance, hooray! Hope the governor signs it.

    • ArnoldLayne

      But the funding mechanism is outrageous

      • shamelessly

        Right now, public transit users, including BART, pay a larger share of the cost of those services than drivers pay toward the building and maintenance of roads and bridges. This toll increase brings that a bit more in line, and should have the added benefit of making BART a better deal than driving for some commuters — which frees up road space for anyone who continues to drive.

  • crazyvag

    I wish Caltrain would get a little more love for downtown extension, 8-car EMU and high level platforms.

  • ArnoldLayne

    We all use the roadways, why pick on only those that use the bridges, to pay for all these projects? Answer- politicians see it as an easy way to pick your pocket. Bridges are choke points with an existing cash-extraction- collection “infrastructure”. And since most people don’t use the bridges every day, this “someone else pays” scheme is more likely to pass a vote.

Author

Dan Brekke

Dan Brekke is a blogger, reporter and editor for KQED News, responsible for online breaking news coverage of topics ranging from California water issues to the Bay Area’s transportation challenges. In a newsroom career that began in Chicago in 1972, Dan has worked as a city and foreign/national editor for The San Francisco Examiner, editor at Wired News, deputy editor at Wired magazine, managing editor at TechTV as well as for several Web startups.

Since joining KQED in 2007, Dan has reported, edited and produced both radio and online features and breaking news pieces. He has shared in two Society of Professional Journalists Norcal Excellence in Journalism awards — for his 2012 reporting on a KQED Science series on water and power in California, and in 2014, for KQED’s comprehensive reporting on the south Napa earthquake.

In addition to his 44 years of on-the-job education, Dan is a lifelong student of history and is still pursuing an undergraduate degree.

Email Dan at: dbrekke@kqed.org

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