Florida bills would nix Palmetto Expressway express lanes

December 5, 2019

Keith Goble

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Multiple South Florida lawmakers are calling for a redo on express lanes along a Miami-area highway, the Palmetto Expressway.

Sen. Manny Diaz Jr, R-Hialeah, and Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Miami Springs, have introduced similar bills to reverse course on tolls collected along the Palmetto Expressway.

Express lanes debuted this fall along the expressway, or state Road 826. Tolls have been collected on southbound express lanes since August. Toll collection was added on northbound express lanes a month later.

Toll pricing is determined by traffic patterns.

The Miami area legislators say since the express lanes opened commuters in nonpaid lanes have experienced “significant delays” in travel time. They attribute some of the problem to population growth since the express lanes were designed in 2011.

Avila said the Palmetto Expressway’s users need and deserve solutions, not obstacles.

“The express lanes on the Palmetto Expressway have led to significant delays in commute times and more congestion on this vital roadway,” Avila posted on social media.

Critics question the claim. They say with vehicles in the express lanes that otherwise would be in regular lanes, there should be less congestion in the regular lanes.

The lawmakers say feedback they have received from constituents says otherwise.

Toll removal legislation

Bills from Diaz and Avila would eliminate express lanes on SR 826. Instead, all highway users could use the express lanes free of charge.

The Florida Department of Transportation would be responsible for removing the express lanes by July 1, 2020. The lanes would be converted to general purpose lanes.

In addition, any future toll collection would be barred on the Palmetto Expressway.

The bills, HB829 and SB1090, await consideration in committee. The regular session begins on Jan. 14. Committees can discuss legislation before the session officially begins.

More Land Line coverage of news from Florida is available.

 

 

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.