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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – Customers of Georgia’s Peach Pass system traveling Florida’s Turnpike during the Thanksgiving holiday were advised, via electronic message boards, to take the “SunPass-only” lane.
Officials say the message should also be read as good news for Florida motorists who pay tolls without stopping at booths and scraping together coins, as the state has again expanded the reach of its electronic transponders.
SunPass customers will now be able to travel the Interstate 85 express lanes in Georgia and have the tolls deducted electronically, at the local toll rates, from their existing home-state accounts instead of receiving bills in the mail.
Georgia joins North Carolina in linking its toll-collection system with Florida.
And Florida is seeking to work similar deals across the South, and into the Northeast and Midwest as required by a 2012 federal law known as the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.”
The act, approved by majorities in the House and Senate and signed by President Barack Obama, requires all states with toll agencies to set up “interoperability” deals by October 2016.
“The turnpike is working with South Carolina and have met with Alabama DOT,” Christa Deason, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise spokeswoman said in an email. “We are preparing for interoperability with the E-ZPass states but there are equipment compatibility issues.”
State’s using E-ZPass are: Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia and West Virginia.
Deason noted that Canada has also expressed interest in establishing a toll-collection exchange deal with Florida due to the number of Canadians who vacation in the Sunshine State.
No estimates were available on when such agreements could be in place.
The state Department of Transportation announced the joint deal with Georgia last month. The agreement allows Peach Pass customers to zip through all SunPass, E-PASS or LeeWay tolls in Florida. The three Florida services already work interchangeably.
Peach Pass customers will be charged the same rates as Florida motorists using electronic transponders instead of the higher cash toll rates.
Deason said in the email that the state anticipates the deals shouldn’t impact motorists, but are expected to increase state revenue “as we can better collect from our out-of-state customers that participate in an electronic toll collection program.”
The same goes for Georgia.
A similar “interoperability arrangement” was reached in July 2013 between Florida and North Carolina. North Carolina’s toll roads are along the Triangle Expressway located in the Research Triangle Park Region.
Motorists who do a lot of traveling and have passes for both the Florida and Georgia systems will have to select one of the accounts and remove the extra transponders from their vehicles before using toll roads in either state.
This report is by Jim Turner with The News Service Of Florida.
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