Fog surrounding toll increases may start to lift

When and how much? Those two aspects of the Golden Gate Bridge variable-toll pricing plan could become clearer after a committee meeting today.

Approved in March, the variable-toll pricing would charge drivers extra for crossing the span during peak travel times.

In earlier discussions, bridge officials speculated an extra cost in the range of 50 cents to $1 during peak travel times, although Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who sits on the bridge district board, said the increase would likely be $2.

Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District officials will decide on a number of options for a variable-toll pricing, including how much fares will increase and what time those increases will take place, after an eight-week study of the plan is presented in a subcommittee meeting today.

The finance committee will decide which variable-toll pricing program to recommend for approval for Friday’s full board meeting.

The variable-toll pricing is being discussed concurrently with another proposal — preliminarily approved in January — to add $1 to the $5 base amount for tolls, andit would also apply to FasTrak users, who pay $4.

The variable toll and the base toll increase will be discussed with the public at a June 11 formal hearing at San Rafael, according to bridge district spokeswoman Mary Currie.

Based on public input, the approval of the tolls will go before the full board in July, Currie said.

If approved, the $1 base-toll-hike likely would not be implemented before January 2009, Currie said. The variable-toll increase cannot be implemented earlier than September 2008 or later than September 2009, Currie said.

By approving the variable-toll pricing plan in March, the bridge district helped the Bay Area secure $158.7 million in federal grant funding.

wreisman@examiner.com

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