Anath Prasad is Florida’s Secretary of Transportation, and his announcement this week about upcoming toll roads aren’t sitting well with professional truck drivers. Prasad said an expansion of toll facilities is a fact of life because other funding sources are drying up.
Gas taxes, which now cost 18.4 cents for every gallon of gas a motorist buys, are the primary source of funding for roads.Truck drivers are basically in the cross-fire there, and Florida knows it. Even worse, with people driving less, and more fuel efficient cars, the revenue generated from gas taxes is in decline. it almost rests squarely on truck drivers who have to rely on state and federal roads for their livelihoods.
“Last year we had to reduce our [road construction commitments] by $1.2 billion,” Prasad said. Truck drivers are curious – how will the toll roads work?
There will be one new lane in each direction on Interstate 295 that will be tolled from the Buckman Bridge to Interstate 95, from the Dames Point bridge to Interstate 95 and from Butler Boulevard to Florida 9B.
These will be the first toll lanes in Jacksonville since 1989 when Duval County voters approved a sales tax increase to do away with tolls. But more could be coming soon.
The first section, from the Buckman Bridge to I-95, is expected to open in 2016 or 2017, with the other two sections opening a year or two later.
Tolling will be done electronically, with no toll booths, similar to what is in place on I-95 in Miami and I-85 in Atlanta.
The existing lanes of I-295 will remain free, with the two toll lanes functioning as an “express lane” for people who want to get through traffic faster. A barrier will be installed to keep the free and toll lanes separate.
The cost of the toll will likely vary depending on time of day and how many people are using the express lanes, a concept that transportation officials refer to as “dynamic pricing.”
Tolls will be collected using a fully automated system called SunPass, There will be no toll booths. SunPass allows traffic to move at full speed through a toll area that automatically deducts tolls from a credit card account via a transponder on the car’s front windshield. If someone doesn’t have a transponder, the license plate is photographed and a bill is sent to the owner of the car.
What do you think, truck drivers? Does this cut into your profit margin in any way? What happened?