Proposed Ballot Measure Would Raise Bridge Tolls Up To $3

SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A plan to put a toll hike of up to $3 for Bay Area bridges on the ballot that would raise the cost of crossing some spans up to $9 is likely to face vocal opposition from voters.

Details about how the money from the plan would be use for improvement projects were revealed this week.

From Sonoma County to the Tri-Valley to Silicon Valley, the bridge toll plan will have a broad impact.

Proponents say it will be a big step forward to relieve traffic congestion, but many bridge users KPIX 5 spoke with were immediately against the idea.

Bay Area traffic has long been notorious and, in recent years, has only gotten worse.

Proponents of the toll-increase plan say individual cities and counties have done a good job with some projects, but now it is time for bigger regional solutions.

“We are really involved in a traffic crisis here,” said Chris O’Connor of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “It is one of the worst places in the entire county as far as our traffic is concerned. And so we need to take a regional approach.”

The plan is to ask voters in all nine Bay Area counties to approve a toll hike of up to $3 on the seven state-run bridges in the region next year.

The state released a list of specific planned improvement projects Thursday. The list included:

  • $500 million for hundreds of new BART cars
  • $300 million for freeway express lanes including I-80 in Alameda and Contra Costa counties and 101 in San Francisco
  • $275 million for new ferries and more ferry service
  • $200 million to bring Caltrain to the Transbay Terminal in downtown San Francisco
  • $125 million to ease the gridlock in what is commonly called the Novato Narrows between Marin and Sonoma counties

“Why it is important to say exactly what you are going to be funding is so voters have accountability,” said O’Connor. “They know exactly what the money that they will be putting into this will be going to.”

Another $400 million will be allocated for the BART extension to Silicon Valley.

It will help pay for phase two of the project from the future Berryessa Station into downtown San Jose, Diridon Station and into Santa Clara.

But not everyone who pays bridge tolls is happy with the plan. Residents who live in Alameda, Contra Costa and Solano counties would pay nearly two-thirds of all tolls.

“$3 more? That’s really mean. That’s brutal,” said San Francisco resident Karina Thich.

“$3 more? Oh my God, it’s too much,” said another local resident.

Exactly how this toll increase would be rolled out is not known at this point.

But if this is put on the ballot next year, it will have to pass Bay Area-wide by a simple majority vote.

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