Golden Gate toll increase passed

July 11, 2008 7:10:53 PM PDT
A decision has been made that will have you digging for more money to cross the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge board of directors Friday morning approved a proposed $1 toll increase taking effect on Labor Day.

It's going to cost you $1 more to cross the Golden Gate Bridge starting September 1st. That's what the Bridge District decided on Friday morning.

Figuring out a separate congestion toll for Doyle Drive approach to the bridge has proven more difficult.

Doyle Drive is the subject of some thorny transportation projects. It's replacement is one, and the congestion toll or a variable pricing toll is another.

The back up on Doyle Drive is the reason that in addition to a toll on the Golden Gate Bridge, there will likely be a "new" congestion toll on Doyle Drive.

But, how much will the toll be or how much will be collected are all questions that are very much up in the air. In the meantime, the Golden Gate Bridge District thinks that looks like cake compared to the hearings on the bridge toll increase.

The Bridge District had nothing left to say about the flat $1 toll increase, and neither did anyone from the public.

And so on September 1st, the signs will be replaced at the toll plaza, up from $4 to $5 for FasTrak and from $5 to $6 for cash.

The increase will close a five-year $91 million budget deficit.

"What are we going to do about it? I don't want to pay all that money for gas either but nothing I can do. Live with it," said Bill Colvin from Marin County.

But if $5 or $6 sounds bad, it will probably get worse. A separate toll on Doyle Drive is still in the works.

The price will vary depending on traffic levels, as a means to reduce congestion. This toll has to be put in place in order for San Francisco to get $158 million in transportation funds from the federal government.

The Department of Transportation didn't like the plans the Bridge District came up with, so the DOT is now coming out to San Francisco for a series of meetings to iron out the technical issues.

The meeting roster reads like alphabet soup.

"The SFCTA, our organization, the city of San Francisco, the MTC, the DOT can get together and better understand in tech talk what they didn't like about what we had proposed," said Mary Currie from the Golden Gate Bridge District.

The DOT says San Francisco must adopt a congestion toll plan by October 15, or it will take away at least $72 million of the $158 million grant.

That toll will go back into public transit, leaving the $1 billion Doyle Drive replacement project still about $150 million short.

"Nobody disagrees that there has to be a solution because that facility cannot be allowed to remain there for very long," said Jose Luis Moscovich from the San Francisco Transportation Authority.

Doyle Drive has virtually the lowest seismic rating possible, and yet funding for its replacement is having to be cobbled together from a variety of different sources.


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