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Bay Area mayors make case for higher bridge tolls

Three Bay Area mayors are making a final push to voters to approve Regional Measure 3 on the June 5 ballot that will gradually raise bridge tolls to help fund transportation infrastructure projects.

Tolls on seven state-owned Bay Area bridges, with the exception of the Golden Gate Bridge, would rise by $1 in 2019, $1 in 2022 and $1 in 2025, generating approximately $4.5 billion.

San Francisco Mayor Mark Farrell, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, held press conference Monday near the Ferry Building to encourage voters to approve Regional Measure 3.

Farrell said The City’s transportation infrastructure and transit system are struggling:

“Our trains are more crowded than ever before. Our buses are more crowded than ever before.”

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency would get $140 million to expand Muni’s fleet of vehicles and facilities.

BART would get $500 million to purchase 300 new rail cars, $375 million to extend into San Jose and Santa Clara, and $50 million would go towards studying and designing a second Transbay Tube rail crossing.

Improving ferry service is also part of a list of projects that would get funding from the toll hikes. About $300 million would help purchase new vessels, rehabilitate existing vessels, making improvements to existing facilities, and either building or expanding terminals.

Schaaf said the measure was about saving the planet and our sanity:

“We’ll be making easier for all those people to get to work in ways other than cars.”

Drivers will also benefit from improvements on road, including a $50 million investment to make traffic improvements on U.S. Highway 101/state Route 92 interchange in San Mateo County and $15 million to improve the Interstate 680/Interstate 880/Route 262 freeway connector.

While the Bay Area is known for its technological achievement, including in Silicon Valley, the Bay Area is also becoming known for its “super commutes,” commutes to work that are 90 minutes or longer, said Liccardo.

The measure needs a simple majority to pass from the combined votes of nine counties, which include Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma.

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