Although Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill allowing Bay Area voters to raise bridge tolls, no date for an election has been set nor has the amount of the proposed increase or whether it would rise all at once or over a number of years.
What is clear, however, is that the toll increase would raise about $4.5 billion that would pay for at least three dozen transportation projects.
It does, however, continue the Bay Area’s strategy to emphasize public transportation while focusing highway improvements on traffic choke points. As has been the practice for years, no new highway construction would be funded.
Carl Guardino, head of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which pushed for the bill, said the spending plan’s strategy is to take a regional approach to making it easier to get around the Bay Area.
Guardino said, “In our region especially, we have become very adept at creating and passing countywide measures, yet so many of our traffic tie-ups transcend county borders. This allows us to cross county borders and address some of our toughest regional traffic jams.”
John Goodwin, an MTC spokesman said, “It has proceeded in fits and starts for years. This would allow that project to at long last get knocked out.”
The bill also requires the measure to include a proposal to create a position for an inspector general whose job it would be to examine BART finances and operations. State Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, insisted on its inclusion in the measure despite BART’s opposition.