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KPIX Poll Shows Bridge Toll Hike Measure Facing Uphill Battle

OAKLAND (KPIX 5) -- With the ballot battle over bridge tolls looming in less than a month, an exclusive new KPIX 5 poll shows Bay Area drivers are clinging to their cars.

The numbers indicate that the up to three dollar toll hike that could eventually make it cost as much as $9 to cross some Bay Area bridges could be a tough sell.

In exchange, voters are promised better public transit and traffic relief.

According to the exclusive KPIX 5 Survey USA Poll, 40 percent of Bay Area voters support the plan, while 34 percent are against it. Another 26 percent respondents said they weren't sure.

If you are tired of sitting in traffic, Regional Measure 3 is promising that Bay Area commuters will have more time to do what they love.

Backers say the bold $4.5 billion plan will help fund 36 different transportation projects from Sonoma to San Jose.

Supporters promise the measure will help improve air quality, extend BART to San Jose and Silicon Valley in addition to buying 300 new BART cars and design a new second Bay crossing.

"[It will] double or triple the size of the ferry system, the Trans Bay Terminal, improve highways and bridges," said Michael Cunningham, who is working on the "Yes On Regional Measure 3" campaign.

But the plan comes at a price: a dollar toll hike at the seven state bridges in the Bay Area next year and more hikes down the line until the toll could reach $9.

Some voters KPIX 5 talked to were surprised at that number.

"An extra buck? Wow! I had no idea," said Rodrigo Clemente.

When asked if he would support it, Wes Howell initially said no, but when asked if the funds were for other transportation, he changed is answer.

"Ah, possibly. It depends on what it is," said Howell.

"Our polling shows that when people see the projects, they like them. They want to support it and get those benefits," said Cunningham.

Another challenge is that while people who live in the cities favor the toll hike -- with 49 percent voting in favor and only 28 percent voting against -- voters in the suburbs  who actually pay most of the tolls are split with 34 percent voting yes and 39 percent voting no.

That's why some of the Bay Area's biggest businesses are supporting the $2 million plus campaign to help pass the measure. But opponents are buying it

"They've taken a user feel to maintain bridges and converted it into a special tax," said Sue Caro, who is working on the No On Measure 3 campaign. "It's what we call a 'Christmas tree program.' They are going to make it look good for all of the different nine counties."

Cunningham disagrees.

"The majority of the money goes to public transit, so that drivers will have the option of getting out of their cars," said Cunningham.

An interesting pitch, considering the poll shows that after all of the billions of dollars invested in mass transit in the Bay Area, eight out of ten people still regularly drive their cars

Conversely, only about one out of ten use BART or bus regularly.

Some local commuters weighed in on why they preferred driving to public transit.

"Convenience; its more convenient," said Bernie Solis

"BART has too many homeless people for me. I don't really like it," said Caroline Ko.

Regional Measure 3 will have to pass Bay Area-wide by a simple majority vote in the June election.

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