New law opens door to tolls in San Bernardino area

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 10/13/2015

A new law in California covers congestion concerns that affect nearly 50,000 trucks per day in the San Bernardino area.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law 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 will 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.

During discussion on the bill in a recent meeting on transportation issues, Assemblywoman Cheryl Brown, D-San Bernardino, 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.

Previously AB914, the new law also permits the commission to pursue extending the HOT lanes to include I-10 connectors into Los Angeles County and on I-15 into Riverside County.

Assemblywoman Brown said during a Senate Transportation Committee hearing 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 new law gives the commission the necessary tools to better manage existing congestion concerns and to accommodate growth in the commuter and trade corridors.

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

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