Q You say voters throughout the region have approved half-cent hikes in county sales taxes along with higher tolls for the seven state-owned bridges. I don't know about you, but I don't ever remember having a chance to vote on whether to raise tolls on bridges. Am I missing something?
A Yep, and with the latest toll hike going into effect July 1 for trucks and vehicles hauling trailers, let's review the toll history.
1988: Voters approve Regional Measure 1 to establish a base $1 toll on all state-owned bridges. Tolls previously ranged from 40 cents to $1.
1997: State legislators approve a $1 increase for seismic upgrades in the Bay Area, plus on the Vincent Thomas Bridge in Los Angeles and the San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
2004: Voters approve Regional Measure 2, hiking tolls to $3 in the Bay Area.
2007: Legislature approves a $1 increase for seismic upgrades.
2010: The Bay Area Toll Authority raises tolls to $5 to provide funds for seismic retrofits of the Dumbarton and Antioch bridges, which were not originally included in the state plan. Funds are also used to help offset a $35 million increase in borrowing costs after upheaval in the municipal bond markets that began in 2007.
Q So, bridge tolls are going up for drivers in vehicles with three or more axles. Do these rates also apply to a motorcycle pulling a trailer, or are they exempt?
A Yes, they do apply. On the region's seven state-owned bridges, multi-axle vehicles will pay $5 times the number of axles, or up to $35. For example, the toll will be $15 for three-axle vehicles and $20 for four-axle vehicles, while rigs with seven or more axles will pay $35.
Crossing the Golden Gate Bridge will also cost more come July 1. There multi-axle vehicles will pay $6 times the number of axles, or $5 per axle for FasTrak customers.
Q The San Mateo Bridge had some lanes closed recently. What were they doing? I didn't see much change.
A Caltrans is preparing to install new steel girders and concrete slabs. The state closed some lanes recently to take survey shots and samples of the bridge for testing. The girders will be installed in the fall and require all lanes to be closed for a couple of weekends.
Q What is the status on delays on Interstate 5? Any bypasses around Buttonwillow or might it be better to bite the bullet and take 101?
Los Altos Hills
A I'd take 101. Caltrans has resumed road work, and I-5 is down to one lane in some places through October. The state advises drivers to also consider Highways 33, 46, 119 and 166.
Q Regarding the driver who got his first traffic ticket in 30 years and wonders if it's worth the money to go to traffic school, I say regardless of the money, it's worth going for the knowledge you gain. I went to traffic school years ago and the things I learned have stuck in my mind ever since.
A Such as ...
Q For instance, when you drive by an accident, don't look at the accident. Look at the other drivers who are so distracted looking at the accident, they don't see you. Or don't get too close to a driver who is being a jerk, especially for revenge, because if you get in an accident with him, you will then be in a "relationship with a jerk," which could go on for years in court, and will not be at all pleasant.
A I was surprised at the number of drivers who recommend attending traffic school instead of just paying off a ticket. But I agree. My lone visit to traffic school (don't ask) was worth a Saturday to reassess my driving skills. What has your experience been? Is traffic school worth a weekend day? What did you learn?
Q My daughter commutes across the Bay Bridge, often at night. What are you supposed to do if your car breaks down in an area of the bridge where there is no separate breakdown lane? Do you sit in the car and hope not to get hit, or if you're in the far right lane do you exit the car and stand a distance away from it in case someone hits the car?
A Stay in the car with seat belts on and flashers flashing, for this will offer some protection. Never get out and risk being hit by traffic.