MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Next year drivers on State Roads 836 and 112 may have to pay more to use the expressways.
On Tuesday, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority approved a plan to revamp tolls on the 836 and 112 expressways.
But it’s not a done deal yet. After the board’s vote of 7-6, chairman Maurice Ferre said it is possible the increase will be reconsidered at the board’s April 30 meeting, according to CBS4 news partner The Miami Herald.
Under the plan as it was approved, electronic tolling SunPass gantries will replace the toll booths, which many consider good news. More good news: tolls will be reduced at some locations.
The bad news: You’ll pay a lot more tolls a lot more often.
Tolls now are only collected eastbound on State Road 112, eastbound on the 836 near Miami, and both ways out in western Miami-Dade. Under the new proposal, tolls would be collected at no fewer than 16 new locations scattered all over both expressways. Everyone would pay no matter how short a distance they travel.
The average roundtrip on the 836 will increase by an average $1.80. The average on the 112 will go up $.40.
The new tolls would generate upwards of $58 million a year in new revenue.
“It is an unnecessary burden, an unbearable burden financially on the daily commuters and businesses of Miami-Dade County,” said Carlos Garcia of the anti-tolls group “Roll Back Tolls.”
MDX says the new money is needed to maintain and improve the expressway system.
“As our sunshine continues to attract more and more people, and we make improvements at the seaport and airport, our infrastructure needs to keep up with demand,” said Cindy Polo, an MDX spokesperson.
Opponents call tolls an expensive and inefficient way to raise money. The cost of gear alone for the new plan is expected to run $30 million. A gas tax, critics say, would make more sense.
Some drivers, tapped out by tolls, were livid.
“You spend so much money on tolls every day, it’s ridiculous,” said Frank Stigh as he pumped gas at a station in West Miami Dade. “All month you spend a fortune on tolls, you spend enough money on gas already, and you got to spend more money on tolls!”
Critics contend that additional tolls will cause more drivers to find a cheaper route.
“When people realize how much this is going to cost, they are going to get off the 836 and the 112 and start taking surface streets, “said Garcia.
The result, according to Garcia, will be even greater traffic congestion in communities dealing with already crowded streets.