MTC approves $218-billion transportation plan for 9-county Bay Area

Includes proposal for solo drivers to pay to use carpool lanes on freeways

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission has adopted a plan on how to spend $218 billion in anticipated federal, state and local transportation funds in the nine-county Bay Area during the next 25 years.

MTC officials said the vision for the so-called "Transportation 2035" plan is to support a prosperous and competitive Bay Area economy, provide for a healthy and safe environment and promote equitable "mobility opportunities" for all residents.

Officials at MTC, which is the transportation planning, coordinating and financing initiative which provides incentives for cities and counties to promote future growth near transit in areas that are already urbanized.

The plan also launches a "Transportation Climate Action Campaign" to reduce transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition, a new market-based pricing system would, with legislative authorization, convert and expand current carpool lanes into a regional express lane network that continues to grant carpoolers and buses free access to such lanes but permits solo drivers to pay to use available space in the carpool lanes.

Major transportation projects included in the plan are BART's extension from Fremont to San Jose, electrification of the Caltrain system, implementation of the SMART rail system in Marin and Sonoma counties and expanded ferry service around the region.

Also included are enhanced service along the Amtrak Capitol Corridor, a rail extension from the Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station to eastern Contra Costa County and improvement to local and express bus services.

Public transit operations, maintenance and expansion will receive almost two-thirds, or $142 billion, of the revenues.

Street, road and highway maintenance will get about 30 percent, or $66 billion, and roadway expansion will get about 5 percent, or $11 billion.

Bay City News, Jeb Bing

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