Time to defeat a bad bill on bridge tolls | Tim Talk | Tim Hunt | DanvilleSanRamon.com |

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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Time to defeat a bad bill on bridge tolls

Uploaded: Sep 12, 2017
It’s unusual to see a federal official weigh in on actions being taken in Sacramento, but Congressman Mark DeSaulnier felt compelled to do exactly that as the Legislature considers a bill to raise Bay Area bridge fares during the final week of its session for 2017.
DeSaulnier, who has previously served in both houses in Sacramento as well as serving as a Contra Costa County supervisor, understands the issues around bridges and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission all too well. During his time, he watched MTC, which doles out the state and federal money in the nine Bay Area counties, oversee construction of the new Bay Bridge that tripled in cost to more than $6.5 billion. It was also more than a decade late, some of which was due to political infighting.
Now the Legislature is considering SB 595 that would raise bridge tolls by $3 (to $8 or $9 depending upon the time of day). That’s a huge increase—one that proponents are justifying pointing to the congestion issues in the Bay Area. And, it would be permanent with increases linked to inflation.
It upset DeSaulnier enough that he wrote an opinion piece of the East Bay Times condemning the bill. Joining the party were Assemblyman Tim Grayson who offered a similar opinion piece this month, while Assemblywoman Catharine Baker sent an email to constituents asking their opinion with a link to a critical editorial in the Times.
The core and valid argument is that East Bay commuters will pay the bulk of the higher tolls and receive substantially less of the benefits. DeSaulnier argued that Contra Costa County motorists would contribute 18.4 percent of the revenue and receive less than 10 percent of the benefit. The two counties combined will pay about 49 percent and receive just 39 percent of the benefits.
It’s particularly egregious when it comes to BART and Santa Clara County. Santa Clara residents contribute just 2 percent of the bridge fare (basically, they have no need to cross bridges), but would receive 23 percent of the benefit. Be serious. Santa Clara County voters, like residents in Alameda and Contra Costa, have voted for increases in the sales tax to support transportation improvements.
And then, there’s BART that is in line for almost $1.1 billion, including $500 million for new train cars. New cars are critical to improving and expanding BART service. Voters passed a $3.5 billion bond issue for BART last year.
But, as the Times editorial board pointed out, there’s no guarantee that BART officials won’t shift money around within its budget so it can continue to pay its inflated employee salaries and lucrative benefits. There’s been no belt-tightening at BART despite budget pressures and the need to replace capital equipment. The board and management has consistently given away the financial store to employee unions and this bill will put more money into the overall budget.
One other key point that DeSaulnier made about the MTC. This is the outfit, “governed” by elected officials from throughout the nine Bay Area Counties, that decided to spend bridge tolls to build its headquarters in San Francisco. That project, like almost anything else MTC touches, ran more than $90 million over budget.
DeSaulnier also points out that the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco is now nearing twice the $1.19 billion budgeted.
Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty is the vice-chair of the agency and represents the county.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Westerner, a resident of San Ramon,
on Sep 12, 2017 at 10:15 am

If the geniuses at the MTC want to stop congestion, I have a suggestion. Eliminate the bridge tolls altogether. There will be no need to slow down, stop, and pay the toll which causes congestion.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 12, 2017 at 5:16 pm

It is interesting how some bridges in CA, like the long beautiful Coronado Bridge linking San Diego to Coronado, has no toll charge at all to cross, either direction, while others in the Bay Area now are asking for increases to $9. Coronado is a well run, fiscally responsible, clean, organized, Republican dominated city, while the Bay Area, is well, clearly the opposite.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Sep 12, 2017 at 9:37 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.


I agree with you on Coronado. I remember there was an attempt to keep the tolls on Coronado bridge but they upheld their promise to cease them once the bridge was paid off. How refreshing that a city gov keeps its promise.

I think the Coronado bridge is also the first to use those removable barriers to increase lane usage in traffic. San Diego also did that on the Hwy 15 corridor and it really has eased traffic going to North County a lot.


Posted by Driver, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Sep 16, 2017 at 6:40 pm

First, the bridge cost is theft to taxpayers who are not allowed to use/get NON union bids.. Few states are as stupid.
Also, East Bay drivers get stuck with criminal fares, that 'others' are happy to push through. Outlandish !
Can't even say use BART, since it has no parking, thugs, AND obscene fares.
We are victims to PUBLIC union abuse at every level.

Posted by solitaire, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Sep 17, 2017 at 7:20 am

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Posted by tim, a resident of Carlton Oaks,
on Sep 18, 2017 at 1:14 pm

tax me more please

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Sep 18, 2017 at 3:26 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.

Was Listening to the Brian Copeland show on KGO today and he was talking about the bridge toll increase. It was hilarious to hear all the liberals call-in expressing outrage at the increase.

Hypocrites...every damned one of them.

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