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Toll shock: Will Bay Area bridge tolls go up?

By dcuff
Tuesday, October 13th, 2009 at 6:52 pm in Bay Bridge, Caltrans, Carpooling, driving, Retrofitting, tolls.

Bay Area bridge operators disclosed a year ago they were considering raising tolls on seven state-owned bridges by $1 – up to $5 per car. On Wednesday morning, a toll authority committee will get down to the details of when and how to do it.

The Bay Area Toll Authority Overnight Committee meets at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the MetroCenter, 101 Eighth Street, Oakland to consider a report on options for a toll increase.

One sticky issue is whether to start making car pools pay tolls to cross the Bay Bridge during peak commute hours. The free ride may be over.

Toll Authority administrators say they need a toll increase to pay for a seismic retrofit on the Dumbarton and Antioch bridges, to cover reduced revenues from fewer drivers crossing the bridges, and to absorb the higher cost of credit to pay for bridge operations and retrofits.

Antioch and Dumbarton bridges – the newest of the seven state bridges – initially got a clean bill of health after the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989. But now Caltrans has concluded the two bridges need to be made stronger.

The toll increase would apply to the Bay Bridge, Dumbarton, Antioch, Richmond-San Rafael, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez and San Mateo.

State legislation adding the Dumbarton and Antioch bridges to the State Toll Bridge Seismic Retrofit Program was signed into law Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger over the weekend. The bill, authored by Assemblyman Tom Torlakson, D-Antioch, makes it easier for the Toll Authority to upgrade the two bridges to withstand earthquakes, toll authority staffers said.   

         

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