Assembly Approves Beall's Ballot Proposal to Trim Long Commutes

September 13, 2017

SACRAMENTO – A proposal by Senator Jim Beall to let Bay Area voters decide whether to raise bridge tolls to fund a comprehensive regional traffic relief plan to reduce commuter congestion was approved by the Assembly today.

If approved by voters, Senate Bill 595 would fund over 30 projects coordinated to take cars off the road and eliminate bottlenecks on the Bay Area’s most heavily traveled routes. Through an open process with local and regional planning agencies, Beall and other legislators representing the Bay Area’s nine counties, collectively mapped out a far-reaching plan to relieve rush-hour traffic.

“This bill gives the Bay Area the bold plan it needs for the future,’’ said Beall, chairman of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee. “On weekdays, an average of 602,000 vehicles enter and exit the Bay Area. 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. ’’

Under SB 595, over 30 projects are proposed, including:

• BART Transbay Rail Crossing – Funding for engineering, design work, environmental review for a second bay crossing. $50 million.

• Increasing BART’s fleet  – Funding for the purchase of new rail cars to expand ridership capacity per train and improve service reliability, $500 million.

• BART to San Jose Phase 2—Funding to extend BART to San Jose and Santa Clara. $375 million.

• San Jose Diridon Station – Funding to expand the station to accommodate train service, future BART and high-speed rail service, light rail and buses. $100 million.

• Eastridge to BART Regional Connector -- Extend Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority light rail from the Alum Rock station to the Eastridge Transit Center. $130 million.

• Contra Costa Interstate 680/State Route 4 interchange – Funding for new direct connectors and the widening of  SR-4 to add auxiliary lanes. $210 million.

• Goods Movement and Mitigation -- Funding to reduce truck traffic congestion and mitigate its environmental effects. Eligible projects include improvements in Alameda County to enable more goods to be shipped by rail, and access improvements on Interstate 580, Interstate 80, and Interstate 880, and to the Port of Oakland. $160 million.

• Dumbarton Corridor Improvements – Funding for planning, environmental review, design, and construction of improvements within Dumbarton Bridge and rail corridor in Alameda and San Mateo counties to relieve congestion and offer reliable travel times. Projects include facilitating rail and transit connections for the Altamont Corridor Express, Capitol Corridor, and Bay Area Rapid Transit District, including a rail connection at Shinn Station.  Projects in Dumbarton Corridor Transportation Study are also eligible. $130 million.

• Richmond-San Rafael Bridge Access Improvements – Funding to improvement westbound and eastbound corridors including a connector from northbound Highway 101 and eastbound Interstate 580; improvements in the vicinity of the toll plaza east of the bridge in Contra Costa County, and Richmond Parkway interchange improvements. $210 million.

• Interstate 680/Interstate 880/Route 262 Freeway Connector – Funding to connect Interstate 680 and Interstate 880 in southern Alameda County to improve traffic movement, reduce congestion, and improve operations and safety. $15 million.

• Highway 101/State Route 92 Interchange – Funding for improvements to the interchange in San Mateo County. $50 million.

Senate Bill 595 also contains accountability measures, instituting the Independent Office of the BART Inspector General to ensure effective and efficient use of bridge toll revenue.

The bill allows for a ballot measure to be presented to voters in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano and Sonoma counties  asking for an  increase in bridge tolls up to $3 to jumpstart the next generation of crucial transportation improvements for the bridge corridors and mass transit needed to relieve commuter traffic.

Following the Assembly’s action, SB 595 will return to the Senate for a vote on concurrence.