Tolls for Tunnels?

For years, Coronado has been mulling how  to deal with the traffic congestion on the Coronado Bay Bridge, which is getting worse each year that goes by. 

"Basically, a major regional traffic problem," said Assistant City Manager Jim Benson

The bridge averages about 80,000 vehicle trips a day, according to Benson, but by 2030, that number is expected to dramatically increase to about 117,000 per day. 

On Thursday, planners presented some traffic-planning options to the public at a meeting. One possibility would be to construct an underpasses on 3rd and 4th streets that would allow commuters to avoid traffic lights as they enter the city. Another option involves digging tunnels that would give commuters direct access from the bridge to Naval Air Station North Island. City planners said North Island would be the home port of a third carrier by 2010, and military traffic will add to the increase in congestion. 

The price tags for the projects are high, ranging from $115 million to $500 million. Planners said that toll collection at the Coronado Bay Bridge could supply the funding, and some residents think it's a good idea. 

"As a Coronado resident. I expect to pay my fair share," Bill Huck said. 

Critics, however, don't like the idea of toll booths. 

"I don't think I should have to pay," Lydia Buchanan said. "I pay plenty of money in property taxes in this town."

The proposals are still in the early stages, and there will be more public meetings in the coming months. 

City planners are hoping to get a project approved in the next couple of years so that construction could begin by 2013.

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