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$1 toll hike planned for Golden Gate Bridge, but not until 2013

Bridge board approves 5-year plan to eliminate $132-million budget

The Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District's board of directors has unanimously approved a plan to eliminate a five-year $132 million budget deficit that could grow to $400 million in 10 years.

The projected shortfall is due to lower toll and transit revenue, decreased state funding, and the district's $75 million contribution over 10 years for the reconstruction of Doyle Drive.

The financial plan, divided into three phases, contains 33 separate expenditure reductions or revenue increases over 10 years.

It includes a $1 toll hike on the Golden Gate Bridge starting in 2013 that would raise $36 million over five years and $126 million over 10

years.

There also would be annual smaller toll increases of perhaps 5 percent starting in 2014 that would raise $140 million over 10 years.

The plan anticipates 69 full-time positions, or 8.3 percent of the district's 830 positions, would be eliminated within four years. That would save $147 million over five years and $533 million over 10 years.

Other proposals in the plan call for charging pedestrians and bicyclists for using the bridge once seismic projects that impact the bridge's sidewalks are completed in about four years. The amount of revenue for the sidewalk access fee was not projected in the plan.

The proposals in the plan are not "set in concrete," district spokeswoman Mary Currie said. They will come before the board for review, and there will be public hearings on the proposals.

"This is a road map, or a menu," Currie said.

The plan also assumes more automation of current tasks, including toll collection, to reduce operating costs, salary freezes, and staff furloughs.

It also calls for raising revenue through more concessions at the bridge, possible partnerships and grants.

District Director Celia Kupersmith called the proposal, drafted by a nine-member advisory committee, "a strategic plan."

Director Joanne Sanders said the deficit reduction blueprint was "an impressive document.

"Some items will have some arm-wrestling, but it doesn't seem to be a significant takeaway from our customers," Sanders said.

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