North Bay Leadership Council helped lead the way to raise funding to improve Highway 37, a key commuter route for employees working in Marin and Sonoma Counties coming from the East Bay. The project is being led by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to reduce traffic by widening and elevating the roadway in stages, as well as providing environmental improvements to the wetlands along the highway. Cynthia Murray, CEO, NBLC, testified at a hearing on tolling, that “We feel that as it becomes a bridge it should be treated like other bridges and we really want to make sure that we have a functioning highway before it goes under water, and these improvements are critical in making sure that the road can be raised and widened to meet the needs of the North Bay,” she told the commission.
The California Transportation Commission approved the Bay Area Infrastructure Financing Authority’s request to apply a toll on State Route 37. Part of their approval was because of the support by NBLC.
According to Susan Wood, North Bay Business Journal, (Link), “The unanimous vote, made during Wednesday’s meeting, does not specify the toll amount. The approval came with two amendments: that the Transportation Commission is required to consider toll discounts based on regional, rather than federal income levels. The second amendment requires the commission to update its guidelines for toll hearings.”
Wood said, “Prone to heavy traffic congestion and flooding, Highway 37 is scheduled to receive short- and long-term improvements whose costs will be passed along to motorists. The tolls are seen as a matching incentive to attract state and federal funds.”
“Overall, the project would be a benefit for those working or living in Marin and Sonoma. Two lanes in each direction rather than the single lane section would reduce travel time and allow transit options from Solano County to Marin,” Transportation Authority of Marin Executive Director Anne Richman has said.
“State and regional transportation officials are proposing the toll to help offset a $430 million price tag on the road widening of the road that overall runs 21 miles between Marin and Solano counties from U.S. Highway 101 to Interstate 80,” said Wood. “The road widening is expected to start in 2025 and finish two years later. The project to raise Highway 37 because of flooding caused by torrential rains and tidal surges will cost approximately $6 billion and take 10 to 20 years to complete, according to transportation officials. The highway was originally designed as a toll road when it was built nearly 100 years ago.”