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Congressman Mark DeSaulnier

Representing the 11th District of California

DeSaulnier and Feinstein Call on MTC to Expeditiously Move Forward on a "Southern Crossing" to Ease Congestion in San Francisco and the Bay Area

December 6, 2017
Press Release
Express Concern Regional III Measure Does Not Come "Anywhere Close" to Addressing Issues

Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-California) called on Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive Director Steve Heminger to expeditiously examine steps to move forward a second east-west "Southern Crossing" of the San Francisco Bay to help reduce one of the worst traffic problems facing the area, and provide significant benefits for toll payers. Traffic on freeways in the Bay Area has increased by 80 percent since 2010, according to MTC’s own analysis. MTC also ranked the evening commute on I-280 to the Treasure Island Tunnel as having the worst congestion in 2016. It was followed closely by commutes from Contra Costa and Alameda Counties into San Francisco.
 

"The traffic demands on our streets and transit systems have become intolerable.  Quality of life is suffering; and, our economy is not nearly thriving as much as it could be if these transportation challenges were addressed. We know you see these challenges and we recognize that you and the State Legislature, in an attempt to address this, have moved forward your plans for Regional Measure III, which, if approved by the electorate, will produce significant revenue to fund a great number of necessary traffic improvement projects throughout the Bay Area," wrote DeSaulnier and Feinstein. 
 

"While we appreciate the Regional Measure III effort, we do not think it comes anywhere close to addressing one of the most significant traffic problems facing the Bay Area – namely, the need for an additional route across the Bay for both BART and vehicular traffic.  As your annual analysis of freeway congestion demonstrated earlier this Fall, the most congested freeway segments in the Bay Area for the second year in a row are the afternoon commutes northbound and eastbound on U.S. 101 and Interstate 80 from the I-280 interchange in San Francisco to the Bay Bridge’s Yerba Buena Island Tunnel.  Moreover, the next most congested route is the westbound direction on I-80, through the Bay Bridge, to Fremont Street. A second crossing would alleviate this traffic through San Francisco and the East Bay, would better connect the entire Bay Area, and would provide significant benefits for toll payers," the Members continued. 
 

"We have communicated in the past about the need for another Bay crossing, but this has not led to any concrete action.  We need to move this issue forward expeditiously, and we would very much like your assistance in doing so," DeSaulnier and Feinstein concluded. 
 

The letter to Executive Director Heminger comes as the Bay Area Toll Authority approaches its December 20, 2017 meeting where the details of Regional Toll Measure III will be discussed and finalized. Earlier this year, the California Legislature passed SB 595, a bill that would increase tolls on major Bay Area bridges by up to $3, except on the Golden Gate, for a total of $8 or $9 a trip. The revenue generated from this increase is to be used for transportation improvements, but no funds have been allocated to adequately address Bay Area congestion and traffic. 

 

The full text of the letter follows:

December 6, 2017

 

Mr. Steve Heminger

Executive Director

Metropolitan Transportation Commission

375 Beale Street

San Francisco, CA 94105

 

Dear Steve,

 

As 2017 draws to a close, we reflect back on some positive steps the Bay Area has taken to improve its transportation situation under the leadership of the MTC.  Most notably, we are most proud of our regional effort to secure the release of funding of Caltrain’s Full Funding Grant Agreement, allowing the Caltrain electrification project to proceed, and the initiation of service of the long awaited SMART train in the North Bay.  Thank you for your work and your leadership on these projects, as well as on all other fronts.

 

That said, we both know that there remain tremendous challenges in front of us.  The traffic demands on our streets and transit systems have become intolerable.  Quality of life is suffering; and, our economy is not nearly thriving as much as it could be if these transportation challenges were addressed. We know you see these challenges and we recognize that you and the State Legislature, in an attempt to address this, have moved forward your plans for Regional Measure III, which, if approved by the electorate, will produce significant revenue to fund a great number of necessary traffic improvement projects throughout the Bay Area.  

 

While we appreciate the Regional Measure III effort, we do not think it comes anywhere close to addressing one of the most significant traffic problems facing the Bay Area – namely, the need for an additional route across the Bay for both BART and vehicular traffic.  As your annual analysis of freeway congestion demonstrated earlier this Fall, the most congested freeway segments in the Bay Area for the second year in a row are the afternoon commutes northbound and eastbound on U.S. 101 and Interstate 80 from the I-280 interchange in San Francisco to the Bay Bridge’s Yerba Buena Island Tunnel.  Moreover, the next most congested route is the westbound direction on I-80, through the Bay Bridge, to Fremont Street.  A second crossing would alleviate this traffic through San Francisco and the East Bay, would better connect the entire Bay Area, and would provide significant benefits for toll payers.

 

We have communicated in the past about the need for another Bay crossing, but this has not led to any concrete action.  We need to move this issue forward expeditiously, and we would very much like your assistance in doing so.  Please let us know what steps the MTC can take to move forward a new Bay crossing for both transit and vehicles, and more importantly, what we can do to assist you in this endeavor.

 

We urge you to give this matter your full consideration.

 

Sincerely,

 

Dianne Feinstein
United States Senator

Mark DeSaulnier
Member, House of Representatives

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