Vote Yes on Regional Measure 3 to Move the Bay Area on June 5th

My Opponent Rep. Mark DeSaulnier’s Opposition to RM3 is Baffling, Along With His Support of a Second Bay Bridge for Cars

He’s Out-Of-Step With the Bay Area When it Comes to Regional Mobility

On April 9th Congressman Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) touted a commitment he and Senator Feinstein received from Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) Executive Director Steve Heminger on studying a second Bay Bridge for cars, probably from Alameda island to southern San Francisco. He proclaimed that a second crossing “ . . . would do more than any other project to alleviate congestion in the region.”

For weeks DeSaulnier has also been voicing his opposition to the MTC’s Regional Measure 3, blasting the MTC’s work and list of regional projects as all about “political relationships”. Last Friday in the Mercury News he laid out his opposition to the plan.

He’s sadly wrong and out-of-touch with the modern Bay Area mobility on both accounts.

A second Bay Bridge that he pushes for would allow many hundreds of thousands for more cars to cross into the City, the Peninsula, and the East Bay. Where would everybody park? Has DeSaulnier tried parking in San Francisco or perhaps Downtown Walnut Creek lately? What about all the extra greenhouse gases that come out of those tailpipes? Bay Area notions of mobility have long since advance beyond moving cars around and towards moving people sustainably for our planet’s future. Remember we took out the hated Embarcadero Freeway? Let’s not rebuild the likes of it on steroids.

A butterfly bridge was discussed for a second Bay Crossing…in 1953. Photo: SF Public Library

Instead of studying a bridge to the 1950’s, we should be looking at another Transbay Tube or rail crossing. Regional Measure 3 included beginning the process of planning for this major undertaking. Such a rail crossing could carry BART, Capital Corridor, and High-Speed Rail. Two trains tracks carry far more people than does all the lanes of the current Bay Bridge. Anybody who’s been to Western Europe or Japan can vouch for the need for regional, interconnected trains. There’s no doubt we’ll need a better partner in Washington, DC to more easily accomplish this. We all hope for that outcome in November’s Congressional elections and a real national infrastructure program.

Regional Measure 3 Begins the Process of Designing a Transbay Rail Crossing for Trains like BART, Amtrak, and High-Speed Rail.

DeSaulnier’s opposition to Regional Measure 3, which will appear on the June Primary ballot in the entire nine county MTC region, is also regressive. RM3 would fund nearly $4.5 billion in transit and highway improvements throughout the Bay Area by increasing tolls on the region’s seven state owned toll bridges (except the Golden Gate Bridge). The MTC, as mandated by the legislature, went through a thorough planning process to select projects that have the most benefit for mobility based on modern transportation planning and outreach. The project list — which was developed by staff members at regional transit organizations — correctly leans toward improving the region’s mass transit options.

The reason why transportation is planned and programmed regionally, as required by federal transportation grant funding law, is that cities and counties would have too parochial an outlook otherwise. Our region, the size of entire states or even countries, no doubt needs regional transportation planning. Sadly, DeSaulnier’s out-of-touch, backwards looking notions of mobility seem to have a lot to do with the failure of the MTC to be cajoled over particular projects in his district or his pet idea of another 1950’s crossing of the Bay. In our large and diverse region, among the most dynamic in the world, the MTC should be commended for planning and drafting the projects for Regional Measure 3.

Furthermore the RM3 will generate good jobs in construction from labor to management. Even in our current low unemployment these are the kind of jobs we need in this economy for all skill levels.

DeSaulnier’s out-of-touch, backwards looking notions of mobility seem to have a lot to do with the failure of the MTC to be cajoled over particular projects in his district or his pet idea of another 1950’s crossing of the Bay.

Rep. DeSaulnier’s opposition to the MTC’s careful work to craft Regional Measure 3 shows that he’s is out-of-step with his constituents and the Bay Area generally on mobility. While no plan is perfect, a rejection of Regional Measure 3 would be a tragedy for the Bay Area’s future.

Dennis Lytton is a Democratic Candidate for Congress in the 11th District Running Against Rep. DeSaulnier. He Also Writes, Advocates, and Works in Transportation.