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Streetsblog Endorses Regional Measure 3

Regional Measure 3 (RM3) would increase bridge tolls in the Bay Area to raise $4.45 billion for transportation. It will be on the Tuesday, June 5 ballot.

RM3 will provide $500 million for more BART cars, $300 million for more ferry service, $150 million for the San Francisco Bay Trail and the Safe Routes to Transit program and $325 million towards the downtown extension of Caltrain. There are also a slew of other transit projects and operational funds in RM3. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission put together this breakdown of where the monies will go.

That's all great.

But RM3 is also kind of a bummer, because to get enough legislators on board it was necessary to include hundreds of millions for more pavement. Because, of course, adding a lane here or there, or widening an interchange, will somehow magically eliminate traffic and reduce pollution.

Because of the transit and bike money, TransForm, SPUR, the San Francisco Transit Riders, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Bike East Bay, and probably a few other advocacy groups we're forgetting about (sorry!) are solidly behind RM3.

But Liveable City is giving no recommendation. "The expenditure plan is less a plan than a grab-bag of transportation projects chosen by state legislators. Many of these will make the Bay Area more sustainable and equitable, while others will increase automobile traffic and pollution," wrote Livable City's Tom Radulovich. "It also includes several hundred millions of dollars to expand freeway capacity, including I-80, I-680, US 101, and various freeway interchanges. State legislators picked their favorite projects to include in the measure, and prevented the region from re-prioritizing funds towards more equitable and sustainable alternatives; the measure runs in perpetuity, so fixing its defects would require yet another regional measure."

Radulovich is right. RM3 will result in more cars and trucks burning more fossil fuels.

But the other advocates are also right to endorse--there's a whole lot of good that comes with this bad. The truth is it's going to take decades to turn the state fully away from its insane obsession with failed road-expansion policies. And for that to happen, we're going to need to build great transportation alternatives that the general population finds preferable to driving.

At some point, advocates for sustainability are going to have to say "no" when it comes to these hodge-podge measures that bundle transit with road building. The question is, have we reached that point yet, or do we still have to accept more bad policy with the good?

The answer to that question should determine how you vote on RM3. Streetsblog encourages a "yes" vote, but, like Liveable City, we also ask that you research the bill, think hard about where you stand, and decide for yourself.

Regional Measure 3 will be on the ballot for voters in the city and county of San Francisco and the following counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. A yes vote is a vote in favor of raising bridge tolls in the Bay Area—excluding tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge—by $3 over six years. Full details are available at ballotpedia.

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