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Bay Area Transportation Improvements Threatened by Lawsuit

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Transportation funding approved by voters in nine Bay Area counties is being challenged in a lawsuit filed to stop the bridge toll increase that would provide those resources.

On July 5, 2018, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association filed a complaint in the Superior Court in San Francisco, against the Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) and the California State Legislature, seeking to invalidate the bridge toll increase known as Regional Measure 3 (RM 3). 

The complaint argues that the toll increase should be considered a tax, and not a fee on the use of a state facility. In addition, the Association also argued, that if the measure were considered a tax, then it should have subjected the measure to a higher voter-approval threshold (66%).  This would make it more difficult to pass measures to fund needed infrastructure investments.

RM 3 was approved by 55% of voters across the Bay Area.  The measure specifies a $3, phased–in toll increase on all state-owned Bay Area bridges by 2025:  adding $1 beginning January 1, 2019; $1 in 2022 and $1 in 2025.  The Golden Gate Bridge is not included in the toll increase because it’s an Independent District.

Santa Clara County, which approved the measure with 61.44%, stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to build the second phase of the Silicon Valley BART Extension into Downtown San José and Santa Clara, a light rail extension to the Eastridge Transit Center and expand the Diridon Station Complex in Downtown San José. In addition, Express Lane projects in Santa Clara County are also eligible to compete for a portion of a $300 million pot of RM 3 funding.

If successful, this suit would make the continuation of many of these projects extremely challenging.

For more on RM 3, visit the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.  
 

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