San Bernardino toll bill nears passage

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, August 06, 2015

A push underway at the California statehouse covers congestion concerns that affect nearly 50,000 trucks per day in the San Bernardino area.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted unanimously 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.

AB914 now moves to the Senate floor for further consideration. If approved there, it would head back to the Assembly for approval of changes.

During a recent meeting on transportation issues, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, highlighted the fact 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.

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.

Brown said during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing on the bill that the I-10 and I-15 corridors now get 260,000 and 223,000 vehicles per day, respectively. The combined figure is expected to increase to 668,500 vehicles daily by 2045.

The routes are also identified as important goods movement corridors with up to 47,500 trucks per day.

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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