Bridge board rebuffs Doyle Drive toll proposal

After a heated exchange between San Francisco and Marin County politicians Friday, the agency that oversees the Golden Gate Bridge held off on taking a position on a proposed toll on Doyle Drive, the southern approach to the famous span.

A toll is being proposed as a revenue source to help fund the seismic upgrade of Doyle Drive.

The idea of the toll didn’t sit well with Marin County’s representatives on the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District Board of Directors. Imposing a toll on Doyle Drive would be a matter for the state legislature, but advocates of the project want to show local support for the initiative by securing the board’s approval.

An estimated 80 percent of the road users during peak times are from the North Bay, said San Francisco District 1 Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who sits on the board.

Toll supporters are up against the clock because funding for the Doyle Drive rebuild is within a $159 million federal grant that is contingent upon San Francisco implementing the toll, a form of demand-based pricing, by March 31.

Marin board member Al Boro introduced a resolution opposing any tolls on Doyle Drive, prompting a spirited debate.

“I think it is vitally important for the bridge to go on record opposing this idea,” said Charles McGlashan, a bridge board member from Marin. “It’s an unfair tax on the people of the North Bay.”

Being a state road, he said the cost of fixing it should fall to the state, McGlashan said.

McGoldrick criticized the bridge board for not taking “responsibility” to fix up the road.

Since the vote to support a toll on Doyle Drive had already been postponed from a previous meeting, McGoldrick requested an indefinite continuance on the matter Friday, which was approved by a narrow 10-to-8 vote.

He said more time will give transit officials time to lobby the federal government to postpone the March 31 deadline, but also time to seek additional funding that would make a toll an easier sell since it would decrease the number of years it would be imposed.

The estimated cost to rebuild Doyle Drive is increasing with time. The cost is projected at more than $1 billion, according to the most recent estimate by the San Francisco County Transportation Authority, up from a previous estimate of $810 million.

jsabatini@examiner.com

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