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Measure To Increase Bay Area Bridge Tolls Passes; Some Find It Unfair

BENICIA (KPIX 5) -- A Bay Area-wide measure that would increase bridge tolls to help pay for transportation projects was passed Tuesday, but not every counties' voters are happy the results.

Regional Measure 3 passed with 60 percent support in the nine-county region. Only Contra Costa and Solano counties voted no.

Over the next six years, the toll increases will look like this: a $1 increase in January 2019, another $1 increase in January of 2022, and a third dollar increase in 2025. After that, automatic toll increases will be tied to inflation rates.

The transportation projects being funded are said to benefit everyone in the Bay Area, but not everyone will be footing the bill for it.

"Everyone benefits but yet everyone in the East and Northeast Bay are the ones that are gonna be suffering from it, that are going to be doing the majority of the payments," said Benicia resident Jared O'Blennis.

In places like Solano County, commuters are facing a double-whammy toll increase as many have to cross two bridges each morning to get to San Francisco or the Peninsula.

Meanwhile, people already in San Francisco or Silicon Valley - who don't use the bridges - won't pay a thing. Perhaps that's why the measure passed by more than 60% in those areas and only got 30% of the vote in Solano County.

"A lot of us voted against it, but that's the way life is these days," said Benicia resident Dan Dion.

The benefits across the Bay Area aren't exactly equal, either. While Measure 3 will raise hundreds of millions of dollars for projects such as new BART and San Francisco Muni cars and extending BART further into San Jose, only one project is actually in Solano County: an interchange in Cordelia that is already partially completed.

"We are pouring more money into the coffers of the Transportation Authority," said Solano County resident Dave Amar. "But yet we are getting far less of the benefits because we don't have any BART stations out here. We don't have any ferries out here."

Still, the people here realize that politics is rarely a fair game. "They've got you between a rock and a hard place and what are you gonna do?" said Solano County resident Marlowe Jones. "You're gonna have to cross the bridge anyway."

Promoters of Measure 3 say reducing traffic congestion helps everyone, no matter where they live. In Solano County, they just wish they had more help paying for it.

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