Survey Finds Bridge-Tunnel Toll Highest in Nation
By GEORGE SOUTHERN
Cape Charles Wave
March 3, 2014
“With tolls on the Golden Gate Bridge headed for as much as $8 by 2017, there’s plenty of grumbling and griping,” reports the San Francisco Chronicle in a survey of the cost of crossing each of the nation’s 150 toll bridges. The Chronicle found the cheapest toll to be $1 to cross to Avery Island, Louisiana (home of Tabasco Sauce). The most expensive toll was – you guessed it – the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.
Like the CBBT, the Golden Gate Bridge offers a lower rate for E-ZPass holders (called FasTrak in California). But unlike the CBBT, tolls are charged in only one direction on the Golden Gate – same as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in Maryland.
The Golden Gate Bridge toll is $5 with FasTrak, which equates to $2.50 each way. Since tolls are only collected one way, there’s no time limit for the free return trip. The Chronicle showed the CBBT toll at $18, but then explained that rate is only for a return within 24 hours (and only with EZPass). Otherwise, the toll rises in May to $15 in each direction: $30 round-trip, or twice the most expensive rate anywhere else in the United States.
The next most-expensive bridge toll reported by the Chronicle was the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge between Brooklyn and Staten Island: $15 one way; free the other way. But with E-ZPass the rate drops to $10.66 round-trip.
The Chronicle story was motivated by plans to raise the $5 Golden Gate Bridge round-trip toll to $7 in graduated steps over the next four years. The CBBT has similar plans, with higher tolls every five years.
Other bridges cited in the Chronicle story include:
George Washington Bridge (NJ-New York City): $9 – $13 with free return (the nation’s busiest bridge)
Sunshine Skyway Bridge (4 miles across Tampa Bay): $1-$1.25 each way
Tacoma Narrows Bridge (Washington State): $4.25 – $6.25 with free return
But the Chronicle omitted mention of Louisana’s Lake Pontchartrain Causeway Bridge, which at 24 miles is the longest bridge over water in the world. Tolls are $2 – $3 collected one way (the other way is free).
The Chronicle also did not explain the new CBBT commuter toll: $5 each way when (and only when) E-ZPass records 20 one-way trips in 30 days. That equals $10 round-trip, which compared to the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge’s lowest toll of $10.66 round-trip, drops the CBBT commuter toll to only the second-most expensive bridge in America — 33 cents cheaper each way.