Florida: State of Tollation
“Welcome to Florida” says the sign on the south bound lanes of I-95 as you enter the state from Georgia. It should also remind drivers to bring their wallets, toll money and Sun Pass. More toll roads are being built here than any other state in the country. And our local and state officials are not asking for our input. Do they know something we don’t know?
The word we coined for this very situation is “tollation”; tolling with our representation. Just like our founding fathers felt that they we being taxed without representation so goes the Florida driver. We should not allow this and let our local and state elected officials look the other way.
Even though Floridians have taken these tolling authorities and placed them outside of state or local government, remember, they are still governmental agencies. Therefore, we as tax and toll payers, must guard against the mentality of Big Government Tolling where no debt is too large or toll hike too high. These authorities will grow in size, with their bloated budgets, and state and local governments must regulate and monitor them in meaningful ways.
Gas Tax + Tolls = Double Dipping
As more new and existing roads become toll roads our availability of non-toll road alternatives are slowly vanishing. We’ve heard it before from tolling agencies like MDX, Miami-Dade Exressway Authority, “If you don’t like paying tolls then take the free roads”. The only problem with that is that those “free” roads were not free at all. We pay gas taxes, license tag fees, auto sales taxes, etc. that paid for those “free” non-toll roads. So as a higher percentage of roads in our state become tolled, we must realize that we are paying double for access. Does anyone see a pattern here?
So is the state or federal government going to stop charging us gas tax every time we fill up at the pump? I think you know the answer to that one. So if more of the roads in Miami-Dade and across the state are becoming tolled, where is our choice? It’s either pony up and pay the toll trolls or opt for the slower surface streets and roads.
What Ever The Market Will Bear = Desperation Pricing
Should our county and state government be applying supply and demand business principles to our transportation system? We just saw the I-95 Express Lanes in Miami Dade go from a maximum, peak rate of $7.00 to a whopping $10.50!! Folks, forget about Lexus Lanes, we’re entering the “Lamborghini Lanes” pricing phase. All I want to know is what is it going to cost to take the full length of the Express Lanes when the Broward portion is finished. $20, $30 to go 12 miles? I know it sounds crazy, but that’s what we’re looking at. Who can afford this madness? Not me.
Lexus Lanes Gone Wild
Here in Miami-Dade we have the I-95 Express Lanes. Many people have asked how did FDOT get to put toll lanes on a federal interstate highway and get a way with it? After all, we paid for this highway with out gas tax dollars. Why have two lanes been taken away from us and only made available to those willing or desperate enough to pay $2, $5 or even $10.50 to go six lousy miles? The FDOT people and Lexus Lanes supporters always point to a mythical study that says that the non-tolled lanes move faster as a result. We’d like to see this study and know who paid for it.
This picture was sent to us by a frustrated driver back a couple of years ago while on his way to the U2 concert at the Dolphins stadium. It shows him stuck in bumper to bumper traffic while waiting to get into the express lane, while the non-toll side of the highway is moving faster. Most people, including me, instinctively feel that if something is priced higher that somehow it will be better, faster, higher quality, etc. Not in this case. The high price set by FDOT is actually suppose to act as a deterrent to using the lane. Most people that we’ve spoken to don’t instinctively get this and FDOT has done a terrible job in not explaining this. In fact many drivers have actually gone to Help Me Howard to demand a refund from FDOT. What a mess!
A very simple way to alleviate this pricing confusion would be to add an “estimated travel time” display under the price so that drivers could make a better judgement of whether to use it or not. Someone please stop me if I am making too much sense. Most people don’t understand that the higher price is the stick and not the carrot.
Tollmagedon Is Coming to Miami-Dade!
Just in time for Christmas MDX, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority is going to leave a little present under everyone’s Christmas tree. The graphic above shows 17 new tolling points along the east and west bound lanes and on and exit ramps of the SR 836 Dolphin Expressway set to go live sometime in December. Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah Miami from the out of touch, non-elected MDX board of directors!
We suggest everyone call their county commissioner to let them know just how you feel about the new higher tolls coming to the SR 836 and SR 112 expressways. After all, they are our representatives in our community. Most of the commission and the Mayor, Carlos Gimenez have been noticeably absent from this conversation. This is tollaion – tolling without representation. Plain and simple. It’s time we demand representation from our elected officials.
If fact our mayor, Mr. Gimenez has publicly stated that he would set up a meeting with MDX’s executive director, Javier Rodriguez, Roll Back Tolls and himself to discuss the situation. Since April, we have not heard back from the Mayor’s office, even after numerous phone calls to follow up. This is un-acceptable! Watch the video of Mayor Carlos Gimenez saying that he will schedule the MDX meeting.
We predict that there will be a mass exodus off the Dolphin SR 836 and onto surface streets and avenues as people realize that they are un-able or un-willing to pay the new higher MDX tolls. This will create traffic congestion the likes of which we have never seen in Miami-Dade. Particularly on NW 36th Street, NW 7th Street, Flagler, 8th Street, Coral Way and US 1 among many others. Is the county ready to handle the added burden, stress and wear on tear on these roads? It’s a valid question.
Toll Lanes Are Hot In Florida.
The Miami Herald recently ran a story on how the use of tolled roads are growing throughout the state.
Read the article here.
Transit Not Tolls
Adding more toll lanes and widening existing highways is a means to an end. Perhaps, roads can be built for lower cost than light or heavy rail, but what is the real long term cost of not expanding our mass transit system today?
I would say adding more toll roads is short term gain for long term pain. We’ll never reach our true potential as a vibrant and sustainable economic community if we keep being lead down a long and winding toll road.
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A non-paid volunteer local activist