Metropolitan Transportation Commission seeks billion-dollar ideas from public

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The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, or MTC, and the Association of Bay Area Governments, or ABAG, have put out an open request for visionary transportation projects with a minimum price tag of $1 billion.

This request for transformative projects is designed to reach out to individuals and organizations that are not traditionally associated with transit agencies and partners. The criteria for the proposals include transit and roadway projects that have a minimum life-cycle cost of $1 billion.

The MTC is also accepting ideas that would make transportation infrastructure more resilient to sea-level rise and earthquakes, as well as operational strategies related to tolling or fare simplification. These proposals are not necessarily subject to the $1 billion minimum.

“In the past when we accept proposals for long-range plans we have typically received the same set of projects,” said David Vautin, project manager of MTC’s Horizon initiative. “We really wanted to see a new set of ideas.”

MTC has set the minimum price tag at $2 billion to encourage big ideas that will have significant effects on the future of transportation in the Bay Area, according to Vautin.

Some transportation infrastructure projects, such as extending BART to San Jose, are already included in Plan Bay Area 2040. MTC is asking for submissions that have not been adopted in previous versions of Plan Bay Area.

Plan Bay Area 2040, adopted in 2017, is part of a series of plans that are revised every four years. Under California’s sustainable communities strategy law SB 375, metropolitan areas are required to develop comprehensive plans for housing and transportation infrastructure for projected population growth.

The deadline to submit proposals for transformative projects is Sept. 6, 2018. According to Vautin, the Horizon initiative has already received hundreds of ideas. Citizens can submit proposals via a form on the MTC website, which takes about 10 minutes to fill out, according to Vautin.

The public proposals will be judged by a panel of experts who will select five to 10 finalists to be announced in October. The top proposals will undergo cost-benefit analyses and computerized simulations to model the possible impacts on Bay Area communities, according to Vautin.

The top-performing proposal’s creator will receive a $500 award, and the second-place proposal creator will receive $100. Finalists may also be included in Plan Bay Area 2050.

During prime-time Friday commute hours on the Richmond BART train, Kumasi Plummer, a driver for San Francisco Municipal Railway, said that it would be great if BART were extended to Vallejo.

“Asking residents for transportation ideas is smart,” said state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, in an email. “There is no single solution—that’s why creative, all-of-the above approaches to help people walk, bike, and take transit where they need to go is a good idea.”

Contact Ryan Geller at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @rashadgeller.