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February 5, 2018

Toll Authority passes $3 price hike for bridges

On Wednesday, the 21-member Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) unanimously approved raising rates on all Bay Area bridges except the Golden Gate Bridge (which BATA does not oversee) by 2022, which would result in a $9 fee for the Bay Bridge and $8 crossings for all other regional spans.

However, the new tolls will not go into effect unless voters in all Bay Area counties approve the hike in the June election.

The original authors of the measure say that it will generate some $4.5 billion toward funding transit projects across the region (possibly including finally extending BART to San Jose), but it remains to be seen whether or not voters will approve of using funds from daily drivers to fuel other forms of commuting.

Regional Measure 3 has run the full gamut of government authorities to get this far, passing the California State Assembly and Senate, earning Governor Jerry Brown’s signature, and now the approval of two regional bodies governing local bridge tolls.

San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim and SF’s BART board member Nick Josefowitz are among the BATA commissioners who approved it this week.

If passed, RM3 would be the largest single voter-approved toll hike in Bay Area history. Voters have upped prices on local bridges $1 at a time on four previous occasions, most recently in 2010.

According to an FAQ written on the prospective new law, “Based on current traffic volumes, each dollar [increase] generates approximately $125 million in annual toll revenue.”

Meanwhile, local commuter Rebecca Gerber’s online petition decrying the toll increase is nearing its goal of 30,000 signatures. So far fewer than 9,500 of the signatures gathered are actually from California. Signers call the toll hike a “tax increase” and object to the idea of bridge dollars going toward unrelated projects.

Regional Measure 3 will require a majority of votes from San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa, Napa, Marin, Solano, Santa Clara, Sonoma, and San Mateo counties, and will determine the price of bridge crossings on the Bay Bridge, Antioch Bridge, Benicia-Martinez Bridge, Carquinez Bridge, Dumbarton Bridge, Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, and the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge.

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