Supreme Court ruling on RM3 positions SMART to be able to construct northern extensions
Petaluma, CA—SMART is pleased with the recent California Supreme Court ruling dismissing a lawsuit challenging Regional Measure 3 (RM3), which was approved by voters in July 2018, to help solve the Bay Area's growing congestion problems through bridge toll funds collected and applied towards construction of highway and transit improvements. RM3 toll revenues will be used to finance $4.45 billion of planned highway and transit improvements, including $40M allocated towards extending the SMART rail system and bicycle/pedestrian pathway to Windsor and to Healdsburg.
“The State Supreme Court’s ruling on RM3 is fantastic news for SMART, for mobility, for congestion relief, and for protecting our climate. The funding not only secures our ability to provide passenger rail service to Windsor but also positions the agency to go further north to Healdsburg and Cloverdale, ” said SMART Board Chair, David Rabbitt.
When will the RM3 funds be available?
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) is awaiting final procedural instruction from the California Court of Appeal, on how to begin releasing RM3 funds. MTC hopes to move quickly to put those dollars to work on long-needed projects to improve mobility and create new jobs across the Bay Area.
Funding SMART Northern Extensions
While RM3 funds were frozen in litigation, SMART and partner agencies have continued to aggressively pursue funds to complete the railroad and bicycle/pedestrian pathway extensions to Windsor, Healdsburg, and Cloverdale. SMART is currently awaiting announcement for four grants for the Windsor and Healdsburg extensions. If these grant applications are successful, SMART will be able to complete the extension to Windsor in fiscal year 2025 and to Healdsburg in fiscal year 2026.
“SMART has a rare opportunity to potentially fund two of the northern extensions. Our continued efforts to secure funding to complete the rail line and multi-use pathway, have positioned us to not only complete construction to Windsor but also potentially build out to Healdsburg,” said SMART General Manager, Eddy Cumins.
The current cost estimate to complete extensions to Windsor and Healdsburg is $230.5M, with the extension to Windsor estimated at $70M and the Healdsburg extension at $160.5M.
To date, SMART has secured $84M for completion of the northern extensions, including $44M from local, state, and federal resources and $40M from RM3. Additionally, SMART is awaiting announcement on $146.5M in grant applications that if successful, could fully fund SMART’s extension to Windsor and Healdsburg. Pending grant applications for this work include the following:
- $88.5M in Transit and Intercity Rail Program funds – round 1 announcement is expected January 31, 2023, round 2 expected in April 2023
- $30M in Solution for Congested Corridors funds – announcement is expected June 2023
- $28M in Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements funds – announcement is expected June 2023
SMART’s strategy is to wait for the results of these grant requests in order to determine how to best leverage funding to complete the northern extensions. A timeline is not yet available for when MTC can release RM3 funds.
Regional Measure 3 Background
To help solve the Bay Area's growing congestion problems, MTC worked with the State Legislature to authorize a ballot measure (Regional Measure 3) that would finance a comprehensive suite of highway and transit improvements through an increase of tolls on the region's seven state-owned toll bridges. Senate Bill 595 (authored by Sen. Jim Beall of San Jose) was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by then-Governor Brown in Fall 2017.