Critics call it Tollmageddon. Highway officials say it’s all about a fair ride.
Whatever it’s called, workday commuters traveling Miami-Dade County’s five main expressways will come with a cost.
The county’s last cash tolls on the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836) and the Airport Expressway (SR 112) were retired on Saturday, completing a high-tech update launched eight years ago that converted the roads to electronic tolling.
New electronic tolling means drivers will be charged the moment they enter either the 836 or the 112. Expressway officials say the conversion was the only equitable way to collect tolls because the old configuration allowed about half the million drivers who daily use the expressways to jump on and off expressways, avoiding toll booths.
But Carlos Garcia, who founded the group Roll Back Tolls in 2010 in frustration over getting information about plans, said the conversion actually increases the rate for drivers.
“We’re not anti-tolls. We’re for justifiable tolls,” Garcia said.
Garcia said his group urged the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority to maintain the same rate per mile. The electronic tolls, he said, allow the authority to collect from more drivers, so costs would not need to rise. Already, his group has heard from angry truckers and suspects businesses will pass on the cost to consumers.
“So on top of high tolls, we’re going to have 18-wheelers driving through Little Havana, Coral Gables, Sweetwater and all the communities surrounding the 836,” he said. “It’s an unintended consequence. But it’s a reality.”