Peak hours cost peak prices

Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge in the future may be more than just a scenic excursion — it could be a financial endeavor costing you $8.

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation board of directors voted Friday to approve a toll that would fluctuate based on the amount of traffic on the bridge, or so-called congestion pricing. The toll could tack as much as $2 during peak times to cross the bridge, according to Supervisor Jake McGoldrick, who sits on the bridge’s board of directors.

At what time of the day the variable pricing will be implemented and how much the increase will raise the $5 toll remains to be seen, although bridge officials should have a better idea after 30 to 45 days of technical analysis, district spokeswoman Mary Currie said.

The toll — which can be implemented no earlier than September and no later than September 2009 — will likely be the second increase drivers will see in the near future.

The bridge district has also proposed to raise cash tolls from $5 to $6, and FasTrak tolls from $4 to $5, a revenue source bridge officials hope will make up a $91 million shortfall projected over the next five years, Currie said. The $1 hike could be imposed as early as June, but likely wouldn’t take effect until January, bridge General Manager Celia Kupersmith said in a meeting earlier this year.

Even though the congestion pricing will raise money for the bridge district, McGoldrick left Friday’s meeting upset that the funds from the toll will not go toward a specific project in The City.

An amendment — introduced by San Rafael Mayor Al Boro and narrowly approved by the bridge’s board — specifically stipulates that no revenue generated from the variable toll increases would go toward rebuilding seismically unstable Doyle Drive.

“In 24 hours, the bridge board has shattered the idea of regional cooperation,” McGoldrick said, referring to the fact that the resolution was unanimously passed Thursday by the bridge district’s finance committee without the amendment.

Secured funding for the Doyle Drive rebuild is at $640 million — $370 million short of the project’s total costs of $1.01 billion.

Bridge district Director Charles McGlashan said it’s unfair for bridge commuters to pay tolls to fund a state highway.

wreisman@examiner.com

Funds secured to help relieve city’s gridlock

By agreeing to tack on what could be an extra $2 for drivers crossing the Golden Gate Bridge during peak traffic times, bridge district officials helped the region secure $158.7 million in federal funding.

The grant, administered by the Department of Transportation’s Urban Partnership Program, was to be awarded to the region only if a regional agreement was reached on implementing some form of congestion-based tolling for Doyle Drive or Golden Gate Bridge by March 31.

Of the grant funding, $78 million will go to the Municipal Transportation Authority to improve traffic congestion in San Francisco — including $58 million for SFgo, The City’s signal priority system. The remaining $20 million will be directed toward improving current parking methods.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he was happy that the region secured the government grant, but a little concerned that an amendment tacked on by the Golden Gate Bridge’s board of directors will preclude any revenue generated by the increased tolls to go toward the Doyle Drive rebuild.

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