Bill would keep Florida from building more express toll lanes

A bill proposed this week in the Florida Senate would prevent the creation of more express lanes on the state’s highways while also setting rules for how express lane toll money must be spent.

The measure, SB 250, was filed Thursday by state Sen. Frank Artiles, R-Miami. If the bill is made law during the upcoming Florida legislative session, which begins March 7, it would ban state officials from creating any new express lanes after July 1.

Traffic comes to a standstill inside and outside the express lanes on Interstate 95 in Miami. (Miami Herald staff file photo)

Traffic comes to a standstill inside and outside the express lanes on Interstate 95 in Miami. (Miami Herald staff file photo)

Money collected from tolls on existing express lanes could only be used to pay off bonds used to create the projects. Once those bonds are paid off, the bill proposes that those express lanes would become general-use lanes.

» RELATED: 7 things to know about the I-95 express lanes planned for Palm Beach County

The use of express lanes in South Florida has been met with mixed reactions. While state officials say the lanes — which use dynamic tolling, meaning drivers pay a higher toll when congestion is worse and a lower toll when traffic flows more smoothly — help ease congestion, anti-toll advocates and some drivers argue the lanes create new problems, such as “lane diving,” where motorists weave through the poles that separate the express lanes from the general-use lanes to avoid tolls.

While Miami-Dade County has been ground zero for express lanes in South Florida, the Florida Department of Transportation is adding express lanes to Interstate 95 in Broward County with plans to extend them farther north to Linton Boulevard in Delray Beach, plus a study underway to see if express lanes should go even farther, to Indiantown Road in Jupiter.

On the Florida’s Turnpike system, express lanes are planned throughout South Florida — including southern Palm Beach County — with construction to begin locally in 2018. However, Artiles’ bill would not apply to turnpike express lanes, only those on highways owned by FDOT.

Read the bill here.

» RELATED: Florida’s Turnpike getting new lanes — but you’ll pay more to get in

 

 

 

 


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