Bay Area Bridge Tolls may Increase
Under a measure the state Legislature just approved last month, Bay Area voters will be asked next year to raise tolls by as much as $3 on all bay bridges, except for the Golden Gate. Unfortunately, more hikes could follow, with no cap, based on a cost of living index. Regional Measure 3 was created by Bay Area lawmakers with the goal of helping to finance 30 transportation projects throughout the region and it was approved by both the state Senate and Assembly. The measure will need a simple majority to pass and will likely go before voters in the nine Bay Area counties either next June or November. Assemblyman David Chiu (D-San Francisco) stated,
Our residents already spend an average of 82 hours stuck in traffic and our transit systems are struggling to keep overcrowded buses and trains moving.
One of the biggest recipients if the measure passes will be BART, which is on track to receive just over $1 billion. The projects include everything from improved bridge approaches and increased ferry service across the bay to bringing BART to Silicon Valley. Money is even planned to start building an underground tunnel for Caltrans to come directly into downtown San Francisco. Assemblyman Jim Frazier (D-Brentwood), who chairs the Assembly Transportation Committee and voted against the measure, said that while there was a need for transportation improvements, “adding another tax on commuters is not the answer.” Whether the measure passes next year will be up to the Bay Area voters, who will have to decide between paying more for bridge tolls or potentially missing out on transportation improvements.