DODD UN­VEILS BILL FOR HIGH­WAY 37

Toll will be set at a later date to boost funds for a new road­way be­tween Mare Is­land and Sonoma County

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By John Glid­den jglid­den@timesher­al­don­line.com @glid24 on Twit­ter

“Com­muters de­serve bet­ter.” State Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, made that procla­ma­tion Friday morn­ing as he of­fi­cial in­tro­duced leg­is­la­tion which would cre­ate a tolling author­ity for State Route (High­way) 37.

Flanked by lo­cal elected lead­ers at Sonoma Race­way, Dodd said the tolling author­ity is nec­es­sary to raise needed funds for a new road­way be­tween Mare Is­land in Vallejo and State Route 121 in Sonoma County.

He stressed that his leg­is­la­tion fo­cuses on cre­at­ing the author­ity and not set­ting any of­fi­cial tolls — which could hap­pen in the fu­ture.

“No one is crazy about a toll — I’m cer­tainly not,” Dodd said. “But it’s the only way to ad­dress traf­fic prob­lems for to­day’s com­muters and make High­way 37 sus­tain­able for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.”

Dodd said any monies gen­er­ated from tolls can be lever­aged with pos­si­ble state and/or fed­eral fund­ing to re­place the road, which is ex­pected to be im­pacted by ris­ing wa­ters due to global warm­ing.

Dodd also said the road, which serves Solano, Napa, Sonoma, and Marin coun­ties, re­quires up­grad­ing to pro­tect the eco­nomic health of the area as goods are moved via the high­way. He said about 40,000 ve­hi­cles use the high­way each day. The high­way is ex­pected to in­crease to 58,000 dur­ing the next 20 years.

In a sep­a­rate in­ter­view Friday, Solano County Su­per­vi­sor Erin Han­ni­gan, who also serves

on the State Route 37 Pol­icy Com­mit­tee, said the price tag to raise High­way 37 and shore-up the area en­vi­ron­men­tally could cost $6 to $8 bil­lion.

While ac­knowl­edg­ing the need to es­tab­lish the tolling author­ity, Han­ni­gan ex­pressed con­cern for Vallejo res­i­dents who use the road to travel to work in Sonoma and Marin coun­ties for var­i­ous en­try-level jobs.

“What hap­pens if they can’t af­ford (the toll)?” she asked. “I’d like to see some sort of pro­gram to help them — whether that’s a car­pool­ing dis­count or re­duc­tion of the toll.”

Dodd said any fu­ture toll would be set af­ter re­ceiv­ing feed­back from all stake­hold­ers. He also noted any de­sign of a new high­way would be done in the fu­ture. He fur­ther sug­gested the toll might have a sun­set date once all the needed fund­ing is col­lected.

How­ever, Dodd did sug­gest an el­e­vated cause­way de­sign from Sears Point to the city of Vallejo.

In ad­di­tion to a new road, there was dis­cus­sion about pro­tect­ing the habi­tat along the high­way.

“The shores of the north­ern San Pablo Bay are the last large ex­panse of wet­lands left in the Bay Area,” Sonoma Land Trust Ex­ec­u­tive Direc­tor Ea­mon

O’Byrne said in a state­ment re­leased by Dodd’s of­fice. “Pro­tect­ing and restor­ing th­ese wet­lands of­fers a cru­cial and ur­gent op­por­tu­nity to safe­guard crit­i­cal wildlife habi­tat and buf­fer the im­pacts of sea level rise on our vi­tal in­fra­struc­ture.”

Vallejo Mayor Bob Sam­payan, also a mem­ber of the State Route 37 Pol­icy Com­mit­tee, at­tended Friday’s press con­fer­ence and called Dodd’s leg­is­la­tion “for­ward think­ing.”

“It’s this kind of leg­is­la­tion, this kind of for­ward think­ing, it’s this kind of vi­sion that will help with this conges­tion,” Sam­payan said.

CHRIS RI­LEY — TIMES-HER­ALD

Cal­i­for­nia State Sen. Bill Dodd an­nounced leg­is­la­tion on Friday morn­ing at Sonoma Race­way that would launch im­prove­ment ef­forts to High­way 37in the North Bay by turn­ing it into a toll road.

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