Bay Area bridge tolls climb higher 

Motorists traveling out of town for the Fourth of July weekend should be prepared to pay more to cross the Bay Area’s eight local bridges.

Starting Thursday, drivers will begin paying $6 to cross the Bay Bridge during the morning and evening weekday commutes — a $2 increase to the current $4 toll. On the weekend, it will cost $5 to cross the Bay Bridge, and during the off-peak weekday times, the toll will remain $4 on the span. Carpoolers, who previously crossed the bridge for free, will have to cough up $2.50 during the weekday commute times.

The Bay Bridge is one of seven spans managed by the Bay Area Toll Authority , a regional body. The six other bridges overseen by BATA — which oversees all local spans except the Golden Gate Bridge — will increase their tolls by $1, bringing the total to $5 starting Thursday.

Collectively, the toll increases will raise about $165 million a year for BATA. The money will help pay for major rehabilitation projects on the Antioch and Dumbarton bridges, remit debt services and make up for decreases in car traffic.

The toll hike to the BATA bridges is the second in the last six years, following a $1 hike in 2004.

The $2.50 car-pooling surcharge and the $6 toll on the Bay Bridge will be applied from 5 to 10 a.m. and 3 to 7 p.m. during the workweek. To apply for the car-pooling discount, motorists are required to purchase a FasTrak transponder. The $6 Bay Bridge toll has been touted by BATA officials as a congestion management tool, with the price hike projected to decrease the maximum delay time on the bridge from 27 minutes to 21 minutes.

The Golden Gate Bridge, which is managed by a separate district, will also implement a toll increase Thursday. Like the Bay Bridge, car-poolers could previously cross the Golden Gate Bridge for free, but starting Thursday a $3 toll will be implemented to multi-person vehicles. The $3 toll will also extend to motorcyclists and shuttles. Also like the Bay Bridge, motorists will have to buy a FasTrak device to qualify for the carpooling discount.

The car pool toll is expected to raise about $1.3 million annually for the Golden Gate Bridge District, which is dealing with a five-year projected shortfall of $132 million. The district last implemented a $1 toll increase in 2008.

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Will Reisman

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