Legal battle over new Bay Area bridge toll hikes could stall region’s transit projects

By Kevin Fixler : pressdemocrat – excerpt

Commuters will pay an extra $1 to cross the Bay Area’s seven state-owned bridges come Jan. 1, as part of a voter-approved measure to raise money for major transit upgrades. But the improvements could be delayed after state and transportation officials were hit with an unanticipated legal roadblock, preventing release of hundreds of millions of dollars for cash-strapped road projects, including a North Bay Highway 101 widening.

The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, a statewide taxpayers’ rights advocacy group, filed a lawsuit in July against the California Legislature and the Bay Area Toll Authority, arguing the ballot measure allowing $3 in bridge toll hikes over the next six years constitutes a tax rather than a fee. Therefore, the group contends, Regional Measure 3 should have met the state requirement of two-thirds majority for approval, instead of the 55 percent support it received from voters across the Bay Area’s nine counties.

The legal complaint, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, was amended in October, and a date has yet to be set for the case… (more)

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