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Editorial: $3 bridge toll needed to fix transit

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  • 6/30 Redwood City Independent
    Published Saturday, June 30, 2001, in the Redwood City Independent Editorial Bay Area transit cannot be fixed without $3 bridge toll We believe the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2001
      Published Saturday, June 30, 2001, in the Redwood City Independent

      Editorial

      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
      transportation projects.

      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.
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