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Transportation

Improve Commutes and Goods Movements

OPPORTUNITY

The commute times are lengthening in the North Bay.  The unfunded Marin-Sonoma Narrows widening project on Highway 101 causes long delays every day for commuters, goods movement and visitors.  The two lane Highway 37 is gridlocked most of the day.  The ever-lengthening backups onto Hwy. 101 for those heading to the East Bay over the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge call for the immediate reopening of the third lane on the bridge.  Local roads are in disrepair, with road money dwindling and inadequate to maintain the existing infrastructure.

These transportation nightmares threaten the North Bay economy and public safety.   As regional commutes become longer and more difficult, employers experience a shrinking labor market from which to draw the talent on which they rely, making the North Bay area a less attractive place to launch or expand a business.  Companies must go where the talent is and if the talent can’t get to the North Bay, the companies will go where that talent is. Unless addressed with urgency, growing commute congestion and delay will inevitably slow economic and job growth, limiting its expansion throughout the Bay Area and its benefit to residents and governments.

CHALLENGE

Transportation planning and funding processes are not oriented towards rapidly addressing the urgent crisis that the North Bay is facing. Transportation planning typically addresses a very long horizon, with Regional Transportation Plans measuring their success against outcomes 20 or 25 years into the future and capital improvement projects taking ten or more years to deliver. Factor in the chronic shortage of funding for transportation, and it’s clear that business-as-usual approaches will not yield the results that our economy needs.

WHAT WE SEEK

Transportation planning and funding is largely the domain of local and regional agencies; however, there are important steps that the state can take:

  • Fully fund the completion of the Marin-Sonoma Narrows widening project on Highway 101
  • Fund Caltrans to begin the planning for the widening and improvement of Highway 37
  • Fully fund the Caltrans budget for highway system operations, so that Caltrans and regional agencies can use technology to monitor and manage highway performance
  • Expedite the opening of the third lane on the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge to open by year end
  • Fund SMART’s capacity building request for a Transit and Intercity Rail Capitol Program grant
  • Establish and fund a competitive commute improvement innovation challenge grant program, funding local regional efforts that offer the best promise to rapidly improve regional commutes and economic growth
  • Support SB 16 which would take the truck weight fee, which raises about $1 billion a year, from the general fund and return it to its intended purpose: mitigating the damage to roads caused by heavy commercial trucks.  The per gallon excise fuel tax would be increased by 10 cents to make up for the decline in value lost to inflation. The vehicle license fee would be increased by 0.07 percent annually over five years. The vehicle registration fee would be increased by $35. Zero-emission vehicles would be subject to an annual $100 fee. 
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