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Bay Area Lawmakers Talk About Raising Bridge Tolls

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) – Bay Area and state lawmakers are discussing the possibility of raising bridge tolls again, and they are debating where the money would go.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the Bay Area has a massive transportation problem.

"The Bay Area is at the center of this problem of congestion," said Randy Rentschler of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said, "Voters understand that the infrastructure is crumbling, they are tired of seeing the roads in the condition they are in, they are tired of seeing bridges falling apart."

That has local and state lawmakers eyeing another bridge toll hike.

"Bay Area voters have voted twice to increase the bridge tolls by a dollar once in 1988, once in 2004. There is a conversation about proposing doing that and putting it on the ballot," Rentschler said.

When asked how much the toll increase would be, Rentschler said, "We don't know the amount or details yet. There was an Assembly select hearing that was held here in Oakland back in August where a number of assemblymembers talked about the possibility."

Then there is the tug of war about where $125 million a year should go.

"Ferries, transit systems, BART other things like that," said former State Senator Don Perata.

Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty said, "I think it is important that we as East Bay leaders stand up and make sure this money is spent here and not spent on other projects in San Francisco."

Perata said a toll hike proposal would take some time. "It took us over a year to negotiate the last one, so it's nothing that you can put together overnight," he said.

There is a political angle here as well. Unlike a gas or sales tax, which everyone pays, only about a third of the voters in the Bay Area use the bridges regularly.

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