Officials announce Bay Area bridge toll hike option

December 9, 2009 7:48:57 PM PST
The Bay Area Toll Authority Wednesday recommended a 50 percent increase for commuters on the Bay Bridge -- an idea that is already not going over well with drivers.

Right now it is just a proposal; the decision will not be made until January. But the recommendation to the Bay Area Toll Authority is to raise tolls at all the Bay Area toll bridges except the Golden Gate by $1; at the Bay Bridge commuters would pay $6.

"I think it's too much in this economy, it's ridiculous," one commuter said.

That feeling was echoed by almost every driver ABC7 spoke to Wednesday,

The current $4 fee would go to $6 during the morning and evening commutes. During off peak times the toll would remain at $4, except on weekends when it would increase to $5. And during the week carpoolers who have been getting away for free would have to start paying $2.50 cents to cross.

The proposal was presented at Wednesday morning's meeting of the regional bridge committee, which also approved $14 million in repairs to the Bay Bridge.

"Basically what we're going to do is we're going to be doing some lane closures on the bridge at night to go in and repair the damaged eyebar," Caltrans spokesperson Bart Ney said.

Ney says the cracked eyebar that caused the most recent closure of the bridge is going to be repaired again, but this time it will only require closing a lane or two at night.

"We're able to do this with traffic on it because we have that other repair holding the bridge while we do the work," he said.

As for the S-curve on the eastern span that has been the scene of so many accidents, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesperson says increased traffic enforcement has cut the number of accidents from a couple of dozen a month down to just five in the past 28 days.

"To date we have issued over 1,000 citations, of speeding citations we've issued about 75 truck citations," California Highway Patrol Assistant Chief Bridget Lott said.

Finally, the commission heard again that the bridge construction is running about a year behind, but there is a good chance some of that time can be made up and though the delays have caused the construction costs to dip into the projects $900 million contingency fund, there is an 80 percent probability that the total price tag will remain within budget.

The Bay Area Toll Authority will decide on the fee hike in January. The Golden Gate Bridge is not on the list because it is not part of the toll authority.


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