Charging tourists to walk across the national landmark is unlikely to happen but underscores a growing deficit problem
Officials in California are considering a proposal that would implement a toll for pedestrians and cyclists who cross the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. Charging money to traverse the popular tourist attraction is one of a more than 40 solutions that special district authorities will consider Friday, in an effort to avoid a projected deficit of more than $200 million.
The body that oversees the bridge, known as the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, says that if no changes are made to current operations, they expect to be running at a deficit of $33 million in five years, up to $210 million in 10 years. The authority recently committed to new projects like helping to fund a $76 million suicide net, in addition to paying for expensive upkeep that will make the bridge more resistant to earthquakes.
About 10,000 pedestrians roll across the Golden Gate Bridge every day, according to current estimates from the district, along with 6,000 bikes, which could help offset those costs. A district official, however, told TIME that the new toll proposals are unlikely to see the light of day after the district’s Board of Directors hears them, given how politically unpopular pedestrian and cyclist fees would be.
The money the district needs is more likely to come from proposals to outsource jobs and labor negotiations, as well as the most traditional source: increased fares for the some 40 million cars that traverse the bridge each year. Only those vehicles traveling southbound, into the city, are charged the basic toll of $7, which will may be increased to $8 in the next few years.