Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Transportation

Veterans Expressway drivers to soon pay electronic tolls

TAMPA — Drivers on the Veterans Expressway will pay tolls without stopping or waiting in line at certain exits starting Saturday morning.

Florida's Turnpike Enterprise will bill drivers only by SunPass or toll-by-plate billing at the Hillsborough and Waters avenue ramps, as well as the Anderson mainline toll plaza.

In a few weeks, tolls at Gunn Highway, Hutchison Road and the Sugarwood mainline toll plaza will also go electronic.

The change affects the stretch of highway through Hillsborough County but not farther north as the Veterans Expressway becomes the Suncoast Parkway.

The project should result in increased safety and less congestion for the expressway's daily 150,000 motorists, said turnpike spokeswoman Christa Deason.

"Drivers are distracted or they got in the wrong lane and they slam on their brakes," she said of traditional toll lanes. "When you do all electronic tolling, all the traffic continues to travel at highway speed. There's no stopping or slowing down."

The conversion to electronic tolls is part of a $380 million project to widen the Veterans. The turnpike enterprise expects to finish construction by the summer or fall of 2016.

Until workers dismantle toll lanes in the coming weeks, drivers must continue to slow down through the toll lanes but they should not completely stop at the window. There will be no way to pay a toll with cash or quarters.

SunPass holders, who make up between 79 and 84 percent of the expressway's traffic, will see lower fees than toll-by-plate customers, who will be mailed higher rates in addition to a $2.50 monthly administrative fee.

Reach Julie Kliegman at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401. Follow @jmkliegman on Twitter.

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