Picnic in the Park returns to Davis on May 1
Davis Pride to celebrate 10th anniversary

Little Publicized Hearing on I-80 Tolls

$10+ at rush hour  - but Tahoe Groups go free!

By Alan Hirsch

Cartoon- induce demand can't wait for road to be widenedPolicies that will  decide how hi the tolls will be on new I-80 lanes will be discussed at little publicized hearing Tuesday April 9th  5:30 at the  West Sacramento Public Library.  Zoom will be available. This may be the first - and maybe last- chance for most members to make oral public  comments as future toll agency meetings will be held during the day in DT Sacramento SACOG offices, where zoom-in comments are not allowed.

Staff for this new agency members have also shared they believe, under the proposed policies, they expect tolls on I-80  for Davis commuter  may typically be $10 each way at congestion times-- or even more when congestion is worst -even $40). But they are proposing 3-in-a- car will go toll free- a policy that seems to differentially favor Tahoe recreational travelers over commuters.

The hearing by the California Transportation  Commission (CTC) will take input on  setting up a new agency and making policies for the proposed 17 miles of new toll lane that run from I-80 in Dixon to both I-80 and I-50 Sacramento River Bridges. The agency will decide how  tolls are set, who get  discounted tolls,  and how the toll revenue will be used. The Agency sponsors are SACOG and  Yolo Transportation District. YoloTD is  chaired  by Davis Mayor Josh Chapman who is also the Davis’s representative on SACOG.

The new agency is called CARTA, Capitol Area Regional Tolling  Agency. This agency, if approved by CTC, will  meet during the day at the  downtown Sacramento office of SACOG.  SACOG does not offer either voice or email public comment or zoom in public comments. This means in the future only in -person public comments will be taken unless CTC decides otherwise.

The proposed plan is dynamically raising (and lowering) the  toll on the new  lane  to in effect “auction  off”  capacity to the highest bidding driver.”  This means tolls will be set high enough to  limit which drivers use the lane, so these drivers who are willing and able to pay the toll are never inconvenienced by congestion. Toll Rates will change over the course of the day based on congestion, as usually the freeway has excess capacity.  

However, at  peak at times when the lanes are most needed the tolls will be quite high. YoloTD director Autumn Bernstein has stated in a  KDRT interview that she expected the toll on these17 mile of  lanes to be $1 a mile, which means at peak congestion about $10 for a one-way  Davis to Sac commute.  Kathleen Hanley, principal planner for the new agency, has also affirmed this in a presentation that  the toll will be between 50 cents and $4 a mile. She suggested  Davis commuters might have to pay $40 to use the lane in a commute to Sacramento sometimes.

Information on Toll Agency Hearing

The public hearing will take place on Tuesday, April 9 at  5:30 pm at the West Sacramento public library at 1212 Merkley Street near city hall.  It was not well publicized: No press release was given to the Davis Enterprise according to Sebastian Ornate the editor.   There has been  no posting on social media. Hearing is at 5:30 so Davis residents coming home I-80 may find it difficult to zoom in- or attend.  For more information on actual proposal, go to this webpage and use the “Hearing” drop down.

The event  flier does not say  they want written public comments, or give a deadline for receipt of input, but they should be sent to:

The official meeting agenda and instructions can be  viewed here.

Below are some observations you might want to share in your comments.

  1. Governing Practices May Limit Public input on Toll Setting

The new Capital Area Regional Tolling Agency, CARTA will be staffed and run out of SACOG, so it looks like the tolling board  will hold meeting at their Sacramento offices even though the only toll lanes it will manage for foreseeable future are in Yolo County.  SACOG meeting are during the day and  do not take zoom or phone message public comments- you must go in person to comment. Should CTC guarantee that the new  agency  for Yolo80 lanes, be required to meet in Yolo County, at more convenient times, and provide a way for remote public comments by the public?

  1. Three Free Tolling Policy favors Recreational Tahoe Traveler

Screen Shot 2024-04-07 at 8.53.10 AMPart the tolling plan, per YoloTD Board,  is to let -three plus carpool use the  lane toll free. This would seem to  favor Tahoe recreational travelers over local commuter and workers.-It would fit larger regional plan to allow 3-free on planned future extension of I-80 toll lanes all the way to Roseville- thus optimizing Tahoe travel.  The transportation reason for this is unclear, as according to Caltrans figures offering  discount for carpool uses would make encourage less 3% more people to carpool. (I-80 CMCP  table 5.3 pg. 97)  And if there are three adult in the car, the tolls per person are already cut by 2/3.  However, the 3-Free policy this would cut by  60% the  revenue available to fund transit alternative in Yolo county and cut fare/improve capitol corridor rail service.  It currently cost $9 one-way to take the train from Davis to Sacramento- or $27 for a party of three adults. Aren’t there already  enough incentives to carpool? And consider induced demand, do we want to courage more Tahoe travel?

  1. Three-Free Policy Drives up Tolls for Other User- Is this social equity?

The managed lanes work by “auctioning off” the excess capacity in the toll lane to the highest bidder. If the toll lane is partly or largely  filled by Three-Free users than there is less capacity  to be auctioned-off to   one or two person cars, thus driving up the toll they pay.   This would seem to increase social equity issues of toll lanes.

  1. Unfunded Social Equity Promises

Cartoon reality check 20 milesIt has been noted that everyone pays the same gas taxes that are funding building  these new lanes, but we are  auctioning off their use in a way that  favors the rich- who already have 2-5 times the carbon footprint as the poor. This has raised concerns about both climate justice and social equity.

In response to public concerns about social equity of toll lanes staff members has made vague  promise of a future having a “social equity” program. But what his means has not been defined anywhere, much less have any guarantee funding identified other than promise toll revenue will be used.  

This promise of funding of social equity is particularly problematic as, according CEQA law mitigation of environmental impacts, i.e. GHG/VMT (Vehicle Miles Traveled) mitigation must be funded  before social equity. Per the  DEIR (page 2-143-2-148) the plan is to fund mitigate 30%  of the increased  VMT, 57mil miles/year increase in driving created by the widening project. . Again, the plan and costs here are vague. But we can ball -park estimate the cost of mitigation plan to - reducing driving by  57M miles/year  by shifting traveler  to other modes:  YoloBus subsidy  is over  $1/ passenger-mile, so an estimate of the mitigation program for 57mil  mile/year cost is likely over $57mil/year,  Yet the on-going toll revenue from the toll lane is estimated to  be only $9.6mil/year per.  Thus, there seem to be insufficient money to fund the promised mitigation efforts, much less a social equity program. Should not the CTC ask for honest assessment of what  CARTA can accomplish in its agency application? .

  1. Social Equity is regional, not Yolo County issue.

The social equity programs discussed by YoloTD seem to only consider help for those in Yolo County, even though over 90% of drivers this section are from Solano, Sacramento and places other than Yolo.  Should not CTC ask that any social equity program be addressed to all users, not Yolo County?

  1. Who Takes Three - Free Discount Is Not Enforceable

One of the issues with HOV lanes in general , and especially on the 3-Free user of the lane,  is the high level of illegal use. On HOV2+ lanes on highway 99 between Elk Grove and Sacrament a recent study showed as many as 46% of users of that lane were illegal single occupancy vehicles. This for 2+ riders where lack of a second  passenger in front seat can be  determined visually.  Determining if there are 3 in a car is nearly impossibly visually - and even more difficult given it is legal to 100% black out  back and back-side window. Advocate for the 3-free program promise some future technology to address but has no  specific examples  even  30 years after the first HOV 2+ lane was opened.

YoloTD  Bernstein has in fact acknowledged in a KDRT interview the lack of enforceability, stating claiming the 3+ ride free discount   will  be on the “honor system.”. CTC should scrutinize the 3+ program viability for this and the  many reasons listed here.

Because the toll level of the is set by balancing supply and demand, if people illegally use the toll lane for free it drives up the cost for toll paying drivers.

  1. Three Free Policy Threaten Mitigation promise made in I-80 EIR.

It is notable in the $9.6mil toll revenue  estimate for the lane assumes only a 10% violation rate. This number is not based on not actual data given violation rate in HOV 2+ are much higher.

Comparing “Three Free” vs  “Everyone Pays” revenue forecast (DEIR alternative 5 vs 4) the three-free policy cut net toll revenue by 60%.  ($9.6M/year vs $23.6m/year).(YoloTD Board meeting 12/11/23 slides 18-20)

Who is accountable to pay for mitigation program and a  social equity program promise by YoloTD and Caltrain in the EIR?  How will a  new  separate  tolling authority become  does accountable  maximize revenue to  fund the promises.

Hirschtable apr 7
Table 5.3 from from I-80 full corridor plan (2022 I-80 CMCP pg 97 ) showing how adding a new lane with different tolling/HOV policies has no effective vehicle occupancy-i.e. car pooling. Compare scenario HOT3+ being proposed for Yolo80 to “base line” and existing to see offering “toll free use of the lane” as a car pool incentive does not affect travel behavior. Segments 6 & 7 are Yolo80 but this is true of all segments.


Tuvia ben Olam DBA Todd Edelman

Wow, thanks for all of this.

If all the final approvals go through there's going to be an indeterminate number of carpools heading to West Sacramento from two to four times per week in the late afternoon for Oakland A's games.

Currently, the games in Oakland start at 6:40 p.m. I doubt that there will be any significant modification to that because of the need to broadcast games live on the east coast.

There are also a couple of daytime games during the week.

I have no idea if there is any transport modeling of this new situation starting in 2025. Both for the corridor and cities along it -- it's pretty clear to me that e.g. In & Out will get a lot more busy, adding even more impacts to Richards and Olive. Has this been discussed in SaCOG or YoloTD meetings? Has the city received any advisories about possible issues?

Keep in mind that construction for the 80 Richards interchange will be happening at least during the first part of the three or four years when the Oakland A's will be in West Sac.

The only mild saving grace I suppose to all of this is that Sutter Health Park has relatively low capacity compared to the typical major league baseball stadium.

Alan C. Miller

I am speaking for myself and no other person or agency

"Autumn Bernstein has stated in a KDRT interview that she expected the toll on these17 mile of lanes to be $1 a mile, which means at peak congestion about $10 for a one-way Davis to Sac commute"

Who talks that way unless they are trying to hide something and do a really poor job at that!? I don't go to Cattlemen's and the waitress says "The steak is $4/ounce" to try to fool me into thinking it's a cheap steak. Why the foolish attempt to conceal?

Thank you Mr. H for bringing this all forward. There is clearly a deep-rooted plan to get these lanes in all over, and keep the auto mode going, and get people to believe the money and investment will actually go to "good things" (whatever you believe them to be, there they are, like magic; Gloria said she wants the money for affordable houses! Puff the magic dragon!), and this whole thing stinks of union jobs and money money money.

"Hey kids, more cars means less pollution" said no sane person ever.

We are being snow blown. Beam me up Scotty, and scatter my molecules over Houston. We got a problem.

Ron O

"It has been noted that everyone pays the same gas taxes that are funding building these new lanes, but we are auctioning off their use in a way that favors the rich- who already have 2-5 times the carbon footprint as the poor. This has raised concerns about both climate justice and social equity."

Just got back from the Bay Area, and saw my first Tesla "CyberTruck" (which pays no gas taxes, but was nevertheless occupying a lane).

But probably more-wealthy than anyone posting to, or reading this blog.

But in a larger sense, "climate justice" and "social equity" are not the same thing. Sometimes, they're also in conflict.

South of Davis

Alan asks:

> Aren’t there already enough incentives to carpool?

I'm wondering if Alan has ever carpooled (or knows many professionals today that carpool).

I'm sure that there were plenty of guys that carpooled to the Hunt Wesson plant on Covell in the 1960's that all started and went home at the same time (after they heard the "quittin' bell" ring). My Dad (who didn't go to college) was in a carpool in the 70's to save money.

In the last 40 years with most (close to all) parents with kids working I have not known a single person that "can" carpool since most "professional" jobs don't start and end at the exact same time every day and it seems like people have to drop off or pick up kids before or after work every day.

P.S. To Tuvia we won't have traffic in Davis from Oakland A's fans for much longer...

Tuvia ben Olam DBA Todd Edelman

SoD: ''... much longer..."?

South of Davis

I'm not a big baseball fan, but I knew the A's were not going to be playing in Oakland for "much longer". I just heard on the radio today that they might be playing in West Sac for a few years (making traffic on I80 worse):

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)