Florida law replaces Miami-Dade Expressway Authority
July 22, 2019
A new law in Florida makes a change in the agency responsible for five expressways in the Miami area. Specifically, Gov. Ron DeSantis has signed into law a bill to do away with the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority toll board.
Previously HB385, the new law replaces Miami-Dade Expressway Authority with the Greater Miami Expressway Agency. All liabilities and assets – including toll facilities – have been transferred to the newly created agency.
The governor said the change will help ensure that government agencies act in the best interest of the communities they serve.
“The people of Miami-Dade County have made it clear that the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority has needed reform for some time, and I am pleased to sign HB385 into law,” DeSantis said in prepared remarks.
Concerns about Miami-Dade Expressway Authority have grown in recent years. Toll rate increases have drawn the most attention. Additionally, a lengthy court battle concluded in early 2018 found the authority to blame for a toll collection system that did not work properly. Miami-Dade Expressway Authority was ordered to pay $53 million to the toll collection system contractor.
The new law specifies the Miami-Dade County Commission and the Transportation Planning Organization receive five seats on the new agency’s board. The governor’s office will fill the remaining four seats of the Greater Miami Expressway Agency.
Toll rates also will be frozen through 2029. Exceptions would be made if money is needed to cover existing debt or via a supermajority vote of the agency’s governing body.
Affected roadways are the Gratigny, Don Shula, Snapper Creek, Miami Airport, and the Dolphin expressways.
Miami-Dade Expressway Authority filed a lawsuit in May saying the legislation is unconstitutional because it would violate home-rule powers in Miami-Dade County. The expressway authority also argued the bill would impair contracts.
Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper declined to intervene at the time because the bill had not been signed into law. The judge, however, left the door open for the challenge to be continued once the bill became law.
Since Gov. DeSantis enacted the change Cooper is expected to soon hold a hearing on the suit.
The governor’s office and the Florida Department of Transportation have filed briefs that argue the expressway authority no longer has a case because it has been eliminated.