Toll hike plan gets go-ahead from MTC committee

January 13, 2010 7:09:30 PM PST
Get ready to pay more to cross most of the bridges in the Bay Area -- a vote on Wednesday all but sealed it. The final decision comes in two weeks and the increases go into effect this summer.

Soon when drivers hand over a $5 bill at Bay Area toll booths, they won't be getting any change back.

A key vote by a toll authority committee on Wednesday paved the way for a toll hike at all seven state-owned bridges.

No one will be exempt. Carpoolers who now pay nothing will pay $2.50 and will need FasTrak and tolls for most drivers will increase from $4 to $5.

Bay Bridge tolls will remain $4 during non-peak weekday hours, but will jump to $6 during the morning and evening commutes and $5 on weekends.

"The bottom line, it's going to cost me $200 a month just to get home," Lou Collier from Fairfield said.

"This will definitely hurt the common man," another driver said.

It will also hurt those small businesses making the crossing multiple times a day for deliveries.

"It's not coming out of my pocket, but yeah, for the company it will add up over time," deliveryman Brandon Hire said.

The additional tolls will add up to $160 million more a year; money that will in part help pay for retrofit projects on the Dumbarton and Antioch Bridges.

Transportation officials say they can't find the money anywhere else.

"There are no pots and this is a very important issue in terms of safety," Contra Costa County Supervisor Federal Glover said.

Truckers won't face a toll hike for another year, but even that worries some.

"With fuel prices up 72 cents a gallon from last year, the timing of this coupled with an economy is devastating," John Yandell from Yandell Truckaway Inc. said.

The full Bay Area Toll Authority is expected to give its final approval for the toll hikes on January 27, and then they kick in on July 1.