money.jpgThe Bay Area Toll Authority’s oversight committee voted today to spend up to $400,000 to conduct another study about the possibility of building a new bridge across the San Francisco Bay between the East Bay and the Peninsula.

The idea of building a so-called “Southern Crossing” between Interstate Highway 238 in San Lorenzo and Interstate Highway 380 in San Bruno, near San Francisco International Airport, has been considered for more than 40 years and has been endorsed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein and other elected officials in the past.

But the idea has always been rejected because of environmental and cost considerations.

Steve Heminger, executive director of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the toll authority’s sister agency, noted in a memo to oversight committee members that the most recent studies about building a new span were conducted in 1991 and 2002, but he believes “enough time has passed since the last study to take a fresh look at the need and opportunities between the East Bay and the San Francisco Peninsula.”

Heminger said the 2002 study looked at some low-cost options for improving travel across the Bay as well as high-cost options such as a new toll bridge, a new BART tunnel and a new rail tunnel.

“The study found critical mass lacking in both travel demand and political support for the higher cost options,” he said.

AECOM, a Los Angeles-based professional technical and management support services company, will conduct a six-month study to assess whether circumstances have changed enough to warrant a full-fledged analysis for a new bridge.

If it’s decided that an in-depth analysis is justified, a second study would take up to another 18 months.

Funding for the studies will come from revenues on the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges that are set aside for bridge rehabilitation work.

Jeff Shuttleworth, Bay City News

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