Editorial: $3 bridge toll needed to fix transit
- Published Saturday, June 30, 2001, in the Redwood City Independent
Bay Area transit cannot be fixed without $3 bridge toll
We believe the Metropolitan Transportation Commission is making a
huge mistake by not increasing tolls on Bay Bridges to $3 in order to
pay for improvements in transportation including the Bay Bridge. Not
one of the 13 commissioners at the MTC meeting voted to increase, the
toll from its current $2.
Only one public official, state Sen. Don Perata, of Oakland has
spoken out in favor of the increase saying "people need to get their
arms around a higher toll."
Steve Heminger, executive director of MTC, took issue with Perata
saying it would be a bad idea for the region. "The Bay Area would
have suffered the permanent extension of the $2 toll, an additional
permanent dollar and no congestion relief," he said.
The MTC will instead ask for the state to make the $2 bill permanent
instead of returning it to $1 in 2007, seek to increase the region's
share of federal bridge replacement funds from $557 million to $1.3
billion, and request a $1 billion loan from the state's highway fund
for one year.
These funds would be used to build the Bay Bridge eastern span,
strengthen the western span and four other bay toll bridges. In
addition it would fund $350 million for expenses and leave $39
million a year to be used to ease congestion on bridges or other
Perata believes the requests by MTC will be met with indifference by
lawmakers in other parts of the state. The governor has seen his
education program shredded as a result of the energy crisis and the
loss of $9 billion to pay those bills out of the general fund.
The estimated cost of the eastern span has doubled to $2.4 billion.
Delaying the project has meant an increase in costs. Other state
transportation projects are competing for state funds.
We predict that MTC will be forced to increase bridge tolls to $3 in
the near future if it wants to accomplish its goals. The strategy it
has taken is to put this increase aside until the state turns them
down. But delaying projects means increased costs and it is high time
to get on with improving the region's transportation infrastructure
so that some relief can be provided to the area's commuters.