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  • Waiting for a ride

Tuesday, June 22 Your Toll Money at Work (perhaps)

A sunny cool morning with the promise of a warm summer day. The fog is still lapping around the edges of the bay and looks heavier as we get closer to San Francisco. I’m in the front seat of a lovely Mercedes E 320. You know how I love Mercedes, so I’m happy with the ride. Our driver is suited up in a sharp gray suit and a crisp white shirt. A take-out coffee is close at hand. Four of those eternal pine tree-shaped air freshners are hanging in a bunch near his left knee – a veritable air freshner grove. Traffic is moving smoothly.

Radio news says a bike lane from the east bay across the new bay bridge is in the works (has been for awhile). Actually a portion of the bike/pedestrian lane is already in the current budget and has been constructed – the portion that connects Oakland with Yerba Buena island. If you are in a high vehicle when you cross the bridge, you can look down on the finished part and see the lane. Today’s news is that a similar path, on the western span of the bridge, connecting Yerba Buena Island with San Francisco has now been approved by the California Senate (Bill 1061, sponsored by State Senator Loni Hancock). This portion, called the West Span Pathway, is estimated to cost between $178 and $428 million. The Senate Bill, which passed on Monday, June 7, allows toll revenues to pay for the project. So there is some of your toll money at work.

On-line comments I’ve read are mostly pro – coming from bicyclists. They’ve been waiting lo these many years for such a route across the water. But one comment said “. . .it’s way too frigging expensive. Even as a daily cyclist I find this crazy spending to be upsetting for something that really won’t be used much. You could completely fix Muni for that kind of money . . ”

However, another comment, “Reminds me of the (heavily used) bike lane on the Brooklyn Bridge”.

As much as I am not in favor of casual carpool toll, I can at least feel better about the money being used to actually decrease auto use in the bay area. I think once this is built, it will become popular and will be used a lot. And if you don’t ride a bike, you can walk across the bridge. Hey, it’s only 8.4 miles. Just a bit more than Bay to Breakers.

Another bright note for the anti-auto commute: Ferry service is going to be expanded with the construction of an expanded ferry terminal. The new terminal, which will be a “hub” for 12 ferry routes is part of a major project to connect Treasure Island as part of the ferry service. The plan is to triple ferry service during the next 25 years, serving up to 12 million passengers annually. Current service only includes 6 ferry routes. Funding, which will total close to $25 million, comes from state bond money. Completion of this project is expected in 2014 or 2015.

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