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Golden Gate Bridge board considers toll hike

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Rising costs leaving famous span potentially high and dry

The Golden Gate Bridge appearing very small in the distance, mostly clouded with fog. Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25

The price of crossing San Francisco’s most famous span might be going up—although plans for a toll hike on the Golden Gate Bridge are still tentative and would not kick in for several years if approved.

The Golden Gate Bridge District’s Finance-Auditing Committee will vote Thursday on whether or not to begin exploring “multi-year toll increase options,” a process that could potentially bring the tolls up to nearly $10 for a crossing in the near future.

According to a report by district staff to be presented Thursday, the costs of maintaining the world-famous span are on the rise:

Bridge tolls supply the majority of the District’s revenue and, as envisioned by the District’s State Charter, that revenue is spent providing transportation services on the Golden Gate Bridge and the District’s Bus and Ferry services.

[...] Over the past five years, since the last toll increase plan was implemented in April 2014, costs have risen for goods and services necessary to carry out the District’s mission to provide transportation services to its customers. The amount of money set aside each year from the operating budget for future capital projects (the “capital contribution”) has also increased.

Tentative ideas for new tolls range “from a $8.25 Fastrak toll to a $9.70 invoice toll,” to be instituted over a five-year period. The district calculates such a move would raise anywhere from $75 million to $100 million annually.

Presents tolls start at $7.

Photo by digidreamgrafix

Thursday’s vote will not implement toll hikes if passed. Rather, it will kick off an exploratory process that may lead to hikes in the future.

Part of the process involves three open houses in the first two months of 2019 for public input on the idea, one at Whistlestop in San Rafael on January 30, one at the Petaluma Arts Center on February 5, and one at Fort Mason Center in SF on February 7.

As the San Francisco Chronicle points out, the last toll hike in 2014 was highly contentious, with now-Mayor London Breed among the board members who objected.

Thanks to voters passing Regional Measure 3 earlier this year, tolls on all of the Bay Area’s other bridges are already set to rise in the coming years.

But since the Golden Gate Bridge is not a state-run span, that measure did not extend to it.