According to State Senator Mike McGuire , whose district spans from Marin County to Del Norte County, as well as a recent San Francisco Chronicle report, the California Supreme Court recently dismissed a lawsuit that challenged a 2018 ballot measure aiming to raise billions of dollars for transit and highway projects through toll hikes at seven state-owned Bay Area bridges.
The Measure was passed by voters in the nine Bay Area Counties in 2018 and was intended to invest $4.5 billion to decrease traffic congestion, expand public transit and tackle some of the Bay Area’s most challenging transportation infrastructure projects. The Supreme Court’s ruling ends a years-long legal dispute that prevented transit agencies from accessing funds raised through Regional Measure 3, which Bay Area voters approved nearly five years ago with 55% of the vote. The delay was triggered by the anti-tax Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which sued to halt the toll increases, arguing that the toll hikes equated to a local tax that required a two-thirds vote under state law because it funds projects that would benefit the general public, not just users of the bridges.
Here’s what’s coming soon to the North Bay:
- More than $130 million to fix the Highway 101/580 interchange in Marin.
- $40 million to help move SMART into Windsor and Healdsburg.
- More than $100 million to complete the Sonoma-Marin Narrows project once-and-for-all.
- $100 million to improve Highway 37.
- Tens of millions to help expand public transit in the two-county region.
“We worked hard to secure these project-funding allocations and the voters spoke loud and clear that they wanted this measure to move forward,” McGuire said in a statement. “We couldn’t be more thrilled. Here’s to less traffic jams, more efficient public transit and safer commutes in the years to come!”
“With transportation funding in decline and on the chopping block, today’s ruling couldn’t have come at a more critical time for the Bay Area,” said Jim Wunderman, president and CEO of the Bay Area Council business group. “It’s a shame it took so long to beat back this ridiculous legal challenge, but it’s now time to start putting this money to work upgrading and improving our transit and other transportation systems.”
Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been generated through the toll increases that went into effect in 2019 and last year, when bridge tolls went up to $7. Tolls will go up another $1 in 2025. Those funds have remained in an escrow account, out of reach of BART, Muni and other transit agencies with capital projects that stand to benefit from the $4.45 billion generated by Regional Measure 3.
Toll funds will also go toward creating more express lanes throughout Bay Area highways, increasing transbay bus service, and building a direct freeway connector from northbound Highway 101 in Marin County to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, according to the measure’s expenditure plan.