It's Official -- Bay Area Bridges Getting Costlier to Cross

By Christie Smith and Jessica Greene
|  Wednesday, Jan 27, 2010  |  Updated 1:12 PM PDT
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It's Official -- Bay Area Bridges Getting Costlier to Cross

Here we go again. Toll hikes. The plan to enact higher fees for Bay Area bridges is cemented and will cost commuters hundreds of dollars more per year. But this time, there's a twist. Jacking up the prices by $1 would be easy, so that won't happen.

Bay Area commuters will be slapped with higher tolls to cross local bridges starting this summer. The Bay Area Toll Authority on Wednesday unanimously approved a plan to hike tolls on several bridges, meaning hundreds of dollars more per year coming out of commuters' pockets. The plan will raise car tolls on the Richmond San Rafael, Zampa, Benicia, Antioch, Dumbarton and San Mateo bridges.

The plan includes congestion pricing on the Bay Bridge. That means that starting July 1, during commute hours the toll will jump from $4 to $6. On the weekends the toll will be $5. Off hours the toll would remain at $4.

Confused? There is an alternative commute.

The other state-owned bridges will just be going up by $1 -- a flat fee from $4 to $5. Some commuters told us that they might move to the San Mateo bridge instead of the Bay Bridge. Also, for carpoolers, the day of the free ride will be over. The cost to ride with total strangers now will be $2.50.

Truckers will also see an increase -- by 300 percent. The money will help pay for bridge retrofitting. That increase will also affect recreational boaters and RV users because the change will treat them the same as commercial truckers. The hike plan is based on the number of axles per vehicle and would double the price for boaters and RVers to tow their rigs over bridges -- from the current $11.25 to $25.

The increase has boaters and RVers fuming, saying it makes no sense to charge them more just because they have more axles.

"It's very unfair to treat me like a trucker hauling a big rig out of the Port of Oakland," Dublin resident Phil Hinton told the Mercury News. "My boat is a lot lighter, causes less wear and tear on the roads, and I'm not using it for commercial purposes."

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