In his March 26 Other Views article, Why MDX tolls should increase, Maurice Ferre said, “The difference between a tax and a toll is that in the latter you have no choice.” The choice, said Ferre, who is chair of the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, is whether millions of residents will continue to use those MDX roads or sit in traffic on such corridors as U.S. 1 and Bird Road. But this is a flawed argument.
As residents throw up their arms in anger, a strong voice of reason is being heard above the crowd. The choice, instead, is whether or not to impose this toll hike in the first place. RollBackTolls.com is shining a light on the culture of MDX.
MDX is the steward of five roadways. Tollpayers service the debt that the agency creates. We are also the taxpayers who paid for those roads before MDX acquired them at a bargain-basement price. We are also the voters who elect the people to which MDX reports However, we are not the “customers”.
Last month, the MDX board voted 7-6 to increase the per-mile rate to 17 cents from 11 cents, a 54-percent increase. CPI indexing was added as an element of tolling policy (rounded up to the nearest nickel). These toll changes are excessive in light of the changes to state roads 836 and 112. Approximately 45 percent more users will be paying tolls on SR 836 via 17 new toll-collection gantries. On SR 112, westbound traffic will be tolled for the first time.
We salute the directors who had the good sense to vote against this toll hike. MDX has benefited from a lack of public scrutiny in the past, but the 16-year honeymoon is over.
Residents are asking good questions: Is MDX building roads that middle-class drivers can afford to use? To what extent will higher tolls push traffic onto surface roads, creating congestion in new places? Will increased tolls create economic drag for small businesses? Are MDX work programs too aggressive? Is it spending money on the right things?
RollBackTolls.com is concerned about the debt MDX are incurring. There is a petition at www.RollBackTolls.com to protest these toll hikes. RollBackTolls.com is talking and listening to the people. Is MDX?
Carlos Garcia and Miller Myers, co-chairs, RollBackTolls.com, Miami