San Bernardino toll bill clears California Assembly

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 6/12/2015

A push underway at the California statehouse covers congestion concerns that effect commuters and commerce in the San Bernardino area.

The Assembly voted 69-7 to advance a bill to authorize the California Department of Transportation to construct a toll lane on the area’s Interstate 10 and 15 corridors. The San Bernardino County Transportation Commission would be permitted to operate a value-pricing program on the corridors.

Existing toll-free lanes could not be converted to pay lanes. However, high-occupancy vehicles lanes could be converted to high-occupancy toll lanes.

Sponsored by Assemblymember Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, AB914 now moves to the Senate for further consideration.

During a recent meeting on transportation issues Brown highlighted that one of every five jobs produced last year in the Inland Empire came from warehousing, distribution and trucking.

“Trucking and logistics is the most important component of our local economy. … It’s really important that it remains robust because that’s where the majority of jobs are created,” Brown stated.

The San Bernardino Association of Governments, which is also legally organized as the county transportation commission, is proposing two projects for tolling authority. Specifically, the association wants to improve the 35-mile stretch of I-10 from Pomona to Redlands and the 35-mile stretch of I-15. In addition, the commission would also be permitted to pursue extending the HOT lanes to include I-10 connectors into Los Angeles County and on I-15 into Riverside County.

Due to increasing urbanization along the corridors, the bill’s analysis states that continued expansion will be a challenge. The problem is expected to worsen as the county’s population is expected to grow from 2.1 million to 3.4 million by 2050.

The two corridors now get 483,000 vehicles per day. The figure is expected to increase to 668,500 vehicles daily by 2045.

Advocates say the bill would give the commission the tools necessary to better manage existing congestion concerns and accommodate growth in the commuter and trade corridors.

Opponents say they are concerned about the burden of debt that would be necessary to finance the value-pricing program.

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