Bay Area voters approved on Tuesday night a regional measure that would raise tolls at seven state bridges by $3 to fund $4.5 billion in transportation improvements.
The proposal, known as Regional Measure 3, received 54 percent support as of 8 a.m. Wednesday in the nine-county area, with most precincts reporting. The measure needs the approval of a combined majority of voters in the nine counties.
Crafted by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the measure received particularly strong support in San Francisco and Santa Clara County. This was enough to overcome opposition from Contra Costa and Solano counties.
Overall, the majority of voters in seven of the nine counties favored Regional Measure 3 would raise tolls at seven bridges: Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael, San Mateo-Hayward and the Bay Bridge (the Golden Gate is operated by its own district).
The three $1 increases ares slated to occur on Jan. 1, 2019, on Jan. 1, 2022 and on Jan. 1, 2025, and to ultimately raise the tolls from $5 to $8.
Voters in San Francisco and Santa Clara County were particularly enthusiastic, with about 61 percent of the voters supported the measure, respectively.
The margin was somewhat slimmer in San Mateo County, where about 54 percent of the voters supported the measure.
The list of projects that will be funded include the extension of BART to San Jose and Santa Clara; the extension of Caltrain to San Francisco's Transbay Terminal and an array of bus, bike and transit projects.
The list also includes $130 million improvements on the Dumbarton Corridor, including added bus service and bus-only lanes on Bayfront Expressway, an Amtrak extension to Redwood City; and $50 million for ramp improvements at the U.S. Highway 101 and State Route 92 interchange.
Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which strongly supported the measure, said he was happy to see the early results showing Regional Measure 3 picking up majority approval in Santa Clara, Sonoma and Napa counties (in all three cases, about 60 percent of the early votes cast were in favor of RM3 as of late Tuesday night).
He expected these results to overcome greater opposition to the measure in Contra Costa and Solano counties, where the measure is far less popular.
Only 44 percent of the voters in Contra Costa County supported RM3, while 56 percent opposed it, with 87 percent of the precincts counted. And in Solano, only 30 percent voted to support the measure while 70 percent voted against it.
Though Guardino said he expected opposition from those two counties, where voters tend to be more conservative, he was heartened by strong support in Alameda County and other parts of the Bay Area.
But while he is still waiting for all the votes to come in, he noted that early voters tend to be more conservative, which suggests that the measure will garner more support as the evening progresses.
"I feel like we are going to deliver $4.5 billion in traffic improvements for the 8 million people in the Bay Area," Guardino told the Weekly shortly after the initial results were released.
Election results will be updated as they become available.
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