#6 Story
Survey Finds Bridge-Tunnel Toll Highest in Nation

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is one of the few surveyed that charges a toll in both directions.

Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel is one of the few surveyed that charges a toll in both directions.

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.



13 Responses to “#6 Story
Survey Finds Bridge-Tunnel Toll Highest in Nation”

  1. Thomas D. Giese on March 3rd, 2014 8:23 am

    It is not a toll, it is a peace and quiet tax, and I love to pay it!

  2. Lenore Savage on March 3rd, 2014 9:33 am

    Agree with Tom!

  3. Jeff Walker on March 3rd, 2014 9:37 am

    You’re comparing a combination bridge-tunnel toll to other tolls that are purely for bridges. It’s not the same comparison. You should have also compared the costs to other tunnels in addition to bridges and look at the cost of the toll per mile for each facility.

    The Wave merely reported a survey conducted by the San Francisco Chronicle. Please direct all complaints to the Chronicle! –EDITOR

  4. David Boyd on March 3rd, 2014 10:21 am

    “It is not a toll, it is a peace and quiet tax, and I love to pay it!”

  5. Kearn Schemm on March 3rd, 2014 10:27 am

    It would be interesting to find out the per mile toll costs on each of these bridges. The CBBT must be one of the longer ones. Still way too expensive.

  6. Donna Bozza on March 3rd, 2014 2:19 pm

    I covered the CBBT for years as a reporter and was amazed what went into just maintaining the 23-mile span in such a volatile wind and water environment including divers systematically checking the structures. The tolls are certainly warranted — especially when coupled with planning and implementing a complete parallel crossing (2 tunnels to go).
    Remember, the 50-year-old tunnels will need long-term repairs and maintenance that can only be achieved when the tunnels can be completely shut down to all traffic for an extended period of time. That can’t be done now. We are blessed to have a highly competent District that is providing a safe and efficient travel and commerce route for decades to come. And oh yeah — all built without tax dollars.

  7. Jim Baugh on March 3rd, 2014 3:13 pm

    I have crossed the CBBT many times over the last 50 years and was always grateful the bridge was there!! As a boater getting my brains beat out by the Chesapeake Bay, there were days I would have paid a lot more than the toll to cross the Bay! Funny but true. Also, for the record regardless of the economy, I would gladly pay much more than a buck to cross and get on Avery Island. Hail Tabasco!!

  8. Antonio Sacco on March 3rd, 2014 3:26 pm

    The CBBT is the only bridge in the world that holds you at gun point and empties your pockets.

  9. Robert H. Meyers on March 3rd, 2014 9:50 pm

    For the under-educated on this subject who have not taken the time to look at what is right under your nose, you may broaden your perspective if you log onto the CBBT website at http://www.CBBT.com. Select “Travel Information,” then “Toll Schedule.” Immediately above the “CBBT CURRENT TOLL SCHEDULE” you will see “CBBT’s toll rate per mile as compared to other toll facilities. Click as indicated and you will find a comparison of the CBBT tolls to four other water crossings in the area. Following is a direct link you can use as a shortcut: http://www.cbbt.com/CBBT%20Toll%20Benchmark2014.pdf

    A balanced presentation on this subject would allow one to see that the charges for a multi-facility water crossing in a very harsh environment are quite low per travel mile. This facility pays its own way. It does not suck up your tax money as poorly maintained government-run facilities do. Its toll revenues are exactly balanced by its operating costs, financial liabilities, and long-term improvement program. It does not produce a profit.

  10. Deborah Bender on March 4th, 2014 6:31 am

    I always enjoy crossing the CCBT. The bridge/tunnel is well maintained and the police are very professional.

  11. Wayne Creed on March 4th, 2014 9:04 am

    Thanks Bob Meyers and Donna Bozza for the perspective. I’ve been crossing that bridge since it was a single span and they charged by the person (my dad made me and my sister hide in the back seat floorboards and they covered us up with a blanket so he didn’t have to pay for us), and even as expensive as it seems on the surface, given what if offers, it is really a bargain. I work across the bay, and without that toll, would not be able to make a living. I do have a gripe about the EZ Pass; in the old days, you would stop and chat with all the great toll collectors, the same time in the morning and the same time on the way home..over the years, they kind of become friends….now, with the EZ Pass, although you can still make the effort to pull up and roll down the window to say ‘hi’, most times rushing to work or coming home to catch the kid’s ball game, you don’t. For a lot of us, if we could still get the discount, we’d toss the EZ Pass right over the rail (or to be more environmentally friendly, just return it to the office). There are still those days, like yesterday in the ice and snow, where the express lanes are closed and you have to roll down the window and get an update on the conditions before they let you across, and you get to see one of your old buddies again.

  12. Bruce Lindeman on March 4th, 2014 9:32 am

    Yes, it’s expensive, relatively speaking. But it’s the nicest stretch of road I travel on. Period. I’ll pay for that. To Wayne’s point, the toll-takers are friendly as can be. When we pull through without the E-ZPass and we have the dog in the car, the toll taker typically hands over a treat for the dog along with the receipt. Where else do you find that? That always makes me smile. And the police: I wish I didn’t have a comment about how professional and nice they are but several years ago, one pulled me over as we rolled on down the high bridge portion. When he came up to the car, he explained that I was going 69 and the problem with that was that the guard rails on the bridge are only rated for 64 mph. Then, he looked in to the back seat where the kids were sitting, then back to me and said, “I don’t think you’d want to hit those rails and go in to the water with the cargo you’re carrying.” But he said it in a kind, sympathetic way, like one father talking to another. We then had a brief conversation about kayaking (or not) on Fisherman’s Island and off we went, ticket in hand. But I was almost glad he gave me a ticket. And in no way did I ever think he was unfair or rude. Just the opposite — I felt he was looking out for me and my family. Now I keep it to 60 mph, max, whenever I cross.

    Anyway, I wish the toll wasn’t so expensive. But, I get it. They hire good people who do a great job keeping it a very safe and pleasant crossing.

  13. John Griffith on March 4th, 2014 3:50 pm

    I had to cross the bay early this morning for a doctor appointment. The CBBT was clean and well sanded and I had no issue crossing. Upon getting onto Northampton Blvd. I was in awe that the road was so bad. The workers on the CBBT are most efficient. Well worth the cost.