Financing deal reached for Doyle Drive

November 7, 2008 7:42:07 AM PST
It appears regional transportation officials have finally hammered out a financing deal to replace the Doyle Drive approach to the Golden Gate Bridge. A plan to have Golden Gate Bridge drivers pay congestion tolls is out, for now.

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission plans to use toll revenues collected on the Bay Area's seven state-owned toll bridges to contribute its portion for the $1 billion dollar Doyle Drive reconstruction project. The MTC doesn't oversee the Golden Gate Bridge, but its possible drivers here could also face higher tolls as the final funding is figured out.

Transportation officials have reached a tentative agreement that calls for $80-million to come from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, plus another $80-million from the Golden Gate Bridge, highway and transportation district, of which Marin and Sonoma counties would contribute $5-million.

That money, along with cost-saving measures, is expected to close the funding gap. It's been a long, bitter feud over how to pay for the much-needed replacement of the 1.5 mile Doyle Drive approach to the Golden Gate. State and federal funds will make up the majority of the project costs, but the Bridge District is still unclear how to come up with its portion.

"We have four funding sources available to us-- we have tolls, transit fares, government grant funds that we get, and then we have the category of other, which is advertising and concessions. So, it's too soon to know where the board would go to try to fund this," said Mary Currie, Golden Gate District.

Two controversial funding ideas rejected over the last year are advertising, or corporate sponsorship, on the bridge. As well as a congestion toll based on traffic on the bridge or Doyle Drive -- critics called it a Marin commuter tax.

Built in 1936, the southern bridge approach is dangerous -- it lacks a median and shoulders, is seismically fragile and has a federal, structural integrity rating of 2 out of 100. The various transportation groups have board meetings this month, to decide whether to approve this new funding agreement.

If approved, construction would begin in 2010. Money from the Bridge District and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission would be due at the end of construction.


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