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South Bay Expressway Has Lower Tolls, Greater Use

More motorists are traversing the South Bay Expressway (SR 125) since public ownership brought lower costs to the San Diego County toll road.

San Diego's planning agency, SANDAG, bought State Route 125 from a private company, which had failed to make the profits they'd hoped for on tolls.

But today, SANDAG staff said they got what they had hoped for: A 17 percent increase in the use of the toll road, the presumed result of dramatically lower toll charges.

SR 125 is also called the South Bay Expressway and it runs south from Interstate 8 in the eastern part of the metro area. But motorists were reluctant to use the freeway, due in part to a slumping economy and to the road’s costly tolls. Their reluctance forced southbound traffic onto the 805, which has become famous for rush-hour traffic jams.

In June of this year, SANDAG took over SR 125 and reduced the cost of its tolls between 30 and 40 percent. SANDAG staff expected that to make the freeway more attractive and increase its use.

In fact, the increased use of SR 125 has slightly exceeded its projections. The greater use reflects driver numbers from July, August and September.

SANDAG bought the toll road for $341 million. Its executive director, Gary Gallegos, said that's less than half what it cost to build it.

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