San Francisco

East Palo Alto Considers Toll for Traffic-Heavy University Avenue

East Palo Alto is considering a toll on University Avenue, a popular route that connects US 101 to the Dumbarton Bridge.

The idea to introduce "surge pricing” is intended to thin out traffic congestion in the area, which becomes gridlocked during the morning and evening commutes. The proposal is similar to what San Francisco is trying to do with Lombard Street.

San Francisco leaders asked state lawmakers to sign off on a proposal to ease traffic on the iconic Lombard Street by charging a toll. Gov. Gavin Newsom vetoed the Lombard Street plan saying it would create “social equity issues,” but during East Palo Alto’s special city council meeting last week Vice Mayor Regina Wallace-Jones mentioned the Lombard Street efforts.

“That is tourist-driven traffic and it’s seasonal,” Wallace-Jones said. “So it would seem to me that we would have much more strength behind our plea since it’s not seasonal.”

But some people who often use East Palo Alto’s University Avenue don’t support the plan.

“Most of the people here are very, they’re not rich, and I think that would adversely harm them,” said Lori Gortner, a Menlo Park resident.

“I think the government is trying to make more money,” said East Palo Alto resident Octavio Gomez. “That’s how it is you know.”

At least one local supports the idea of a toll road, though.

“As long as it gets me to work faster and gets me home faster, I’m down for it, to be honest because that traffic is terrible,” said Joshua Page of Palo Alto.

The Palo Alto City Council will re-examine the proposal in December.

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