Your days of riding in the Palmetto’s express lanes without paying are over

The day you’ve been dreading is here, Miami.

No, they haven’t instituted the death penalty for turning on your hazard lights in the rain. They haven’t outlawed cafecito or made Dolphins season tickets mandatory.

It’s worse: You’re going to have to start paying to drive on the Palmetto if you want to use the express lanes.

Paying to drive on the most maddening stretch of highway ever constructed seems a bit of a disconnect. Shouldn’t they pay us to drive on it? We’re the ones suffering here.

But no. The express lanes have been free since they opened, and it has been glorious. If you have been driving in the express lanes, that is. If not, the experience has been deeply unpleasant. And starting Monday, Sept. 23, you will not be able to freeload your way past the standstill traffic on the Palmetto without paying a price.

And you want to pay that price. If you don’t, you’ll die a little inside every day. Have you seen what the non-express lanes look like?

How much will you pay? That depends. The price of the express lanes depends on how many cars use it. On I 95, at rush hour - 2:45 p.m. through 8 p.m. - it’s approximately $58. LOL. We’re kidding. It’s actually only $57.

OK, that was a joke, too. But we don’t know how much it will cost. I 95 at rush hour can be anywhere from $9-$11. If you’re driving in it when it’s more than $11, you’re in a higher tax bracket than we are.

But look on the bright side. The Palmetto actually starting to look pretty good next to what’s happening on I 95, parts of which will be closed on and off for the next three weeks. Yay.

Fact is, when you consider the upcoming four-year spider monster nightmare and the death of downtown’s Northeast 12th Street (RIP) the Palmetto express lanes feel like a bargain. Even if you have to get a second job.

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