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Golden Gate Bridge Board Set to Back Toll Plaza Speed Limit Hike to 25 MPH

Drivers will soon no longer have to stop when going through the toll plaza, and the speed limit will increase from an advised 5 mph to 25 mph to speed up traffic and reduce congestion, district officials said.

When the Golden Gate Bridge switches to all-electronic tolling next Wednesday, March 27, drivers will all be able to cruise through the toll plaza at 25 mph.

Since cash will no longer be accepted in the toll lanes and no one will be required to stop, the board of the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District are set to approve on Friday morning an increase of the current speed limit of 15 mph– although the posted signs ‘advise’ motorists to go 5 mph. The change is meant to reduce congestion and speed up traffic on the bridge, Public Affairs Director Mary Currie said.

District officials received no comments about the increase during a public hearing on Thursday, but one board member was a bit concerned.

“Twenty-five just seems fast through the toll plaza,” said Barbara Pahre of Napa. “I guess people will slow down because it’s narrow?”

Indeed, that’s the idea. The district hired traffic-engineering consultant Whitlock & Weinberger Transportation, which determined that with the nine-to-11-foot-wide lanes and surrounding support poles and structures, drivers tend to slow down anyway, and 25 miles per hour is considered a “maximum safe speed” through the toll plaza. Other toll bridges in the Bay Area also have a posted speed limit of 25 mph.

All lanes will take FasTrak, and will be restriped so that lanes (left to right) 1, 2, and 3; 4, 5, and 6; and 7 and 8 will be paired together and then each cluster will merge into a single lane 400 feet beyond the plaza. The district also plans to add a carpool lane in toll lane 2. That carpool lane will be only for going through the toll plaza, not for driving over the bridge. 

Drivers will have four options for paying the their toll: FasTrak, a license plate account, a one-time payment of an invoice, which are all further explained here. Ten pilot electronic kiosks for cash paying customers have already been rolled out in Marin and San Francisco, and officials plan to have a total of 150 up and running by March 27.

“We’re six days away from one of the most visible changes for the travelling public on the Golden Gate Bridge,” Currie said.

So now, it’s a matter of getting the word out.  

Workers are currently erecting a 27-foot sign above the toll booths that will read “Do Not Stop, Automatic Tolling.” They’ve installed electronic signs north of the bridge warning drivers of the change, have reached out to a number of media organizations, and have posted the news in 11 different languages on the Golden Gate Bridge district website. Drivers will soon be able dial **GGB to receive a text message with a web link to information about the update. 

When the all-electronic tolling goes into effect on Wednesday, Currie anticipates a relatively smooth morning since 86 percent of commuters use FasTrak. But by mid-day “we may expect to see some challenges,” she said. Staff will be on hand to wave people through the lanes, and there will also be a pull-off station where drivers can stop to get more information.

Signs will remain up, and staff will be on hand to help motorist for as long as they’re needed.

“I think,” Currie said, “what we’re going to be facing is an ongoing challenge to reach the entire world that might be traveling over the Golden Gate Bridge.” 

Bill Turner March 24, 2013 at 05:37 PM
CHP numbers lanes from the left, so I would guess #2 is in fact second from left.
Bill Turner March 24, 2013 at 05:44 PM
This is an absolute GIFT to the rental car companies to tack on more fees completely out of line with their costs. Most appear to be about $3 per day for the privilege of enrolling, whether a toll is ever collected or not. High fives all around!
Golden Gate Bridge Public Affairs March 26, 2013 at 04:29 PM
Hi, Bob: No, the FasTrak discounted toll will remain $5 for a 2-axle vehicle.
Golden Gate Bridge Public Affairs March 26, 2013 at 04:33 PM
Hi, Kevin: We do have a webcam on our District website (www.goldengate.org), but it doesn't stream in real-time. 86% of our commute times use FasTrak so we're predicting things will run relatively smoothly. We're anticipating a few hiccups as people get used to the new system, but we're stressing DO NOT STOP at the Toll Plaza to our drivers.
Golden Gate Bridge Public Affairs March 26, 2013 at 04:41 PM
Hi, Rico: Thanks for your question. Since you cross the Bridge infrequently (less than once per year) and it sounds like you won't be home in time to pay a Toll Invoice within 21 days after being generated, we suggest you open up a License Plate Account or make a One-Time Payment. More on these options here: http://goldengate.org/tolls/tollpaymentoptions.php#paybyplate. If you cross other Bay Area bridges more than once per year, you may want to look into getting a FasTrak Account: http://goldengate.org/tolls/tollpaymentoptions.php#fastrak.

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