Elsewhere: Toll authority weighs higher bridge fees SFGate

The possibility of increasing tolls by $1 on all seven state-owned bridges in the Bay Area next July will be discussed at a transportation committee meeting on Wednesday.

Members of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s Bay Area Toll Authority Oversight Committee said the increase, which would push tolls from $4 up to $5, is needed to help finance seismic retrofit work on the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges, offset higher borrowing costs and address a five-year decline in toll-paying traffic on the bridges.
However, committee officials stressed that a final decision on toll increases probably won’t be made until January and will be subject to future public hearings.

Among the options under consideration will be an increase of $1 to the current $4 base toll for two-axle vehicles, increased tolls on a per-axle basis for multi-axle trucks and for vehicles towing trailers.

In a controversial move, the committee also is considering ending its policy of letting carpoolers cross the region’s bridges for free and instead charging carpoolers a portion of the base toll.

Metropolitan Transportation Commission Executive Director Steve Heminger said last December at a meeting of the Bay Area Toll Authority, which administers tolls on the state-owned bridges, that a toll increase will help pay for $950 million in seismic safety upgrades on the Dumbarton and Antioch bridges.

Heminger said a three-year study concluded that the two bridges need to be retrofitted even though they are two of the newest spans in the Bay Area.

The Dumbarton Bridge, which is 1.6 miles long, was built in 1984 to replace a structure that was erected in 1927. It goes between the Newark and Fremont area in Alameda County and the East Palo Alto and Menlo Park area in San Mateo County, carrying an average of 60,000 vehicles a day.

The Antioch Bridge, which is 1.8 miles long, was built in 1978 to replace the original span, which was built in 1928. It travels over the San Joaquin River and connects Antioch in Contra Costa County to state Highway 160 in unincorporated Sacramento County.
The bridge carries an average of 15,000 vehicles a day.

In addition to the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges, the state-owned spans that would be affected by a toll increase are the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge, the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, the Benicia-Martinez Bridge, and the Carquinez Bridge.

The Golden Gate Bridge wouldn’t be affected by the proposed toll increase because it’s overseen separately and falls under the jurisdiction of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District.

The committee’s hearing will be held at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Joseph P. Bort MetroCenter at 101 8th St. in Oakland.

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