Would Bay Area drivers pay higher tolls for less traffic?

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- The July 4th holiday weekend will mean more vehicles on the road, adding to the already congested traffic gridlock that many Bay Area drivers face nearly every day.

AAA says with the July 4th holiday falling on a Tuesday this year, some people will get a four-day weekend, which makes road trips more inviting. And the auto club predicts that more than 37 million Americans will hit the road this year, a nearly 3 percent increase over last year.

"We're going to San Luis Obispo (and) we're going into Grover Beach, Pismo and then we're coming back," said Carolyn Foster of Fremont.

Traffic congestion is on the minds of many Bay Area residents. A new poll commissioned by the Bay Area Council and two other groups found that 85 percent of 9,000 people surveyed said Bay Area traffic is worse than a year ago.

"The number one concern of residents in the Bay Area is the traffic situation," said John Grubb, chief operating officer of the Bay Area Council.

The study found that people are willing to pay higher bridge tolls -- up to $3 more over a four-year period if it meant lighter traffic.

"Unfortunately, nothing's free, including transportation improvements," Grubb said.

Supporters said the money would fund proposed improvements such as expanding car pool lanes, adding on and off ramps and increasing BART and ferry service.

"What they need to do is figure out how to build more infrastructure. All the cities keep building houses but nobody's building infrastructure," Singh said.

Some residents expressed skepticism that higher bridge tolls would pave the way to improving congestion.

"They're using the FasTrak so they're saving money by taking jobs away and now they want to raise it more," Foster said. "It doesn't make sense."

"If you value your time (and) if you save like 45 minutes, it's well worth it," said Massine Merzouk, who lives in Oakland. "You end up spending more money on gas just sitting there in your car."

"The bridge tolls are pretty high," said David Kapiuk of Union City. "Raising them even more is kind of ridiculous."

State lawmakers are working on a ballot measure to increase tolls on all Bay Area bridges except the Golden Gate Bridge. Voters could see it at the ballot box June 2017.

By KTVU reporter Amber Lee.

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