Thursday, April 19, 2018
Transportation

Florida's toll systems can be confusing to navigate

After a recent road trip to Apopka, during which I traveled on State Road 429 from Interstate 4, I received a bill from the Florida Department of Transportation's toll enforcement for $5 and a bill from the Central Florida Expressway Authority for $6.80. After phone conversations with both organizations, I was told I must pay both bills. Is this correct? Would I save money by paying cash at toll booths?

Bernadette M. Bailey

The agency overseeing toll collection depends on the particular toll road, which is why you received bills from two different sources. There are different tolling authorities statewide, and various tolling formats. Some accept SunPass, some accept E-Pass, some accept both, some accept cash and others are entirely cashless.

SunPass customers pay discounted tolls of about 25 percent and SunPass is accepted on E-Pass toll roads in the Orlando area. But without knowing the exact route you took, where you entered and exited which toll roads, and assuming you did not use a SunPass, I can't tell you whether your invoices are correct, but I offer the following:

The $5 invoice you received from the Florida DOT was for whatever travel you did on a toll road on which you could use a SunPass, which is the DOT's prepaid toll program. The Tampa Bay area has a few toll roads that accept SunPass, including the Suncoast Parkway, Veterans Expressway, I-4 Connector and the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway. Both the Veterans Expressway and the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway are all-electronic (no cash transactions) toll roads.

For drivers who use toll roads that have all-electronic tolling, the options are to purchase a prepaid transponder that pings off the toll plaza as you pass through, or be subject to invoice by mail, which comes to your address after you pass through a toll. This is probably what happened with you.

When vehicles pass through an all-electronic tolling plaza without a SunPass or an E-Pass, a camera captures a photograph of the license plate, and a bill that includes an administrative service charge is mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

The second invoice in the amount of $6.80 is probably for your travel on State Road 429. Also known as the Daniel Webster Western Beltway, SR 429 is a limited-access toll road built and maintained by the Central Florida Expressway Authority and Florida's Turnpike Enterprise. The 33-mile toll road runs from I-4 in Four Corners north to U.S. 441 (also known as State Road 500/Orange Blossom Trail), with exits in Winter Garden, Ocoee and Apopka. The Central Florida Expressway Authority accepts both the SunPass and E-Pass stickers for toll payments.

Regarding your question about whether you might save money by paying cash at toll booths, it all depends on the roads you're using and how often you travel. Keep in mind that some toll roads in the state have all-electronic (cashless) tolls, toll plazas with attendants who accept cash, and toll plazas at exits that are not staffed with attendants but require exact change in coins. So do your homework to avoid a flurry of toll invoices with added service charges that can cost more than the tolls themselves.

For information about SunPass, visit floridasturnpike.com. For information about E-Pass, visit cfxway.com

How long is the road work on Haines Road supposed to last? Another year or so?

Dee Jordan

Improvements to Haines Road, which include upgrades to sidewalks, driveways, and drainage, began in October 2016. Work is scheduled to be completed in March 2018. In the interim, motorists should expect another eight months or so of lane closures and delays along Haines Road from 52nd Avenue N to 60th Avenue N.

The state Department of Transportation erected signboards on 66th Street between 38th Avenue N and 54th Avenue N in St. Petersburg at least six months ago. They have never been active. What's the point in erecting the signboards if they don't provide any information?

Stuart Freeman

The signs were installed by Pinellas County and are connected to the countywide Intelligent Transportation System (ITS).

This particular segment of the project to install ITS stretches from State Road 693 (also known as 66th Street, Pasadena Avenue, and Alternate U.S. 19) to State Road 699 (also known as Gulf Boulevard) at a cost of nearly $3 million.

Elements of the ITS include capability to alert motorists to traffic conditions and provide alternate route information (which is what the signs are for). The technology will also help monitor and manage traffic in real time, reduce delays, and improve pedestrian safety. The completion date for the project is December 2018, but a date for activation of the signs on 66th Street has not yet been provided by Pinellas County. Stay tuned.

Tri-County Trail update

The official opening of the trail extension project that began in September 2015 along Keystone Road from East Lake Road to the Hillsborough County line is set for 9:30 a.m. on July 20.

Barricade watch

• The DOT says there may be single-lane closures in each direction of Fourth Street South at I-175 between 10:30 p.m. and 6:30 a.m. Sunday through Thursday.

• One or more lanes may be closed on southbound I-275 on the Howard Frankland Bridge between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. this week for scheduled maintenance.

Email Dr. Delay at [email protected] to share your traffic concerns and questions. Follow @AskDrDelay.

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