BY EMILY MIBACH
Daily Post Staff Writer
After bridge toll hikes, the state’s 12-cent-a-gallon gas tax hike and a potential SamTrans half-cent sales tax measure, drivers may have to pay to drive on Highway 101 — and a San Mateo County supervisor is calling foul.
Caltrans and the San Mateo County Transit Authority are considering adding toll lanes to the far left lanes on 101 in both directions from Rengstorff Avenue in Mountain View to the Interstate 380 interchange in South San Francisco.
Previously, the carpool lanes had been an option instead of toll lanes, but San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa said there was a lack of input from the public and county boards to weigh in on whether the lanes ought to be carpool or toll.
“I don’t think this is well thought out. The cart is before the horse and this deserves more public input and comment,” Canepa said.
Caltrans recently reopened public comment on the issue after the state agency revised parts of the environmental report and reissued it.
The goal of the project is to reduce traffic congestion, encourage people to carpool and keep 101 moving, according to Caltrans officials. However, Canepa said if the true goal is to encourage carpooling, then why would the county and Caltrans consider allowing solo drivers who pay a fee to cruise the lane?
“I’m not a rocket scientist, I’m just a supervisor, but if the goal is to move people and get them to carpool, then why not just do a carpool lane?” Canepa said.
The Post tried to find out why carpool lanes were nixed, and reached out to project manager Leo Scott, but did not hear back from him.
The toll lanes would cost about $534 million to install, according to Caltrans. However, according to a presentation given to the San Mateo County City/County Association of Governments on July 12, the county would get about $45 million in gross revenues, but between predicted uncollected tolls, people using the lanes as carpool lanes (and not having to pay), and maintenance — the county should only expect between $9.7 million to $20.5 million a year. This is after the first year, where the county could get between $600,000 to $9 million, according to the report.
Public comment on the project will be taken until Aug. 9, and can be submitted at http://www.dot.ca.gov/d4/101managedlanes/.