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New Year's Toll Hike On Bay Area Bridges At Center Of Lawsuit

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) - Drivers may want to make sure they get a receipt when they cross Bay Area bridges. The first of three toll hikes for Bay Area toll plazas that took effect on New Year's Day morning on all seven state-owned bridges and is at the center of a lawsuit.

The additional revenue was supposed to provide more than $4 billion for highway and transit projects around the Bay Area, but a legal challenge could ultimately mean a toll refund for drivers.

Bay Area voters accepted this toll hike when they approved Regional Measure 3 back in June, but opponents of that measure, however, have not accepted defeat. They are challenging the measure in court on grounds that it is an unconstitutional tax.

There is no timetable for when the challenge may be resolved. KPIX asked Bay Area officials what happens to the money hat being collected while the legal challenge is decided.

"All of those funds will be held in escrow, and will not be distributed to project sponsors until the resolution of the lawsuits," says John Goodwin, a spokesperson for the Bay Area Toll Authority.

If the lawsuit is successful, and Regional Measure 3 is invalidated, drivers could actually get a refund.

"It's real easy for those who pay their tolls with FasTrak," Goodwin explains. "We just provide a credit to those accounts."

He says drivers who pay cash will have to do a little more work.

"Make sure you get a receipt. But really the smart move is to pay your toll with FasTrak."

Commuters who don't have receipts may end up losing their overpayment refund if the $1 hike goes down in court.

More than 130 million cars pass through just the Bay Bridge toll plaza every year. Nearly 80 percent of those drivers use Fastrak.

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