During a hurricane, the safest choice is to stay off the road completely.
With Hurricane Matthew swinging toward Florida, the Sunshine State is in an official state of emergency. Much of South Florida is under a tropical storm or hurricane warning. Reports of high winds and heavy flooding have local transportation options changing.
If you must travel before or after the storm, here’s what you need to know:
Even with Florida Power & Light working full tilt, electricity will likely be out at some point during Hurricane Matthew. When that happens, drivers have options in Broward and Miami-Dade to fill up at stations with generators.
But as lines grow around gas stations through South Florida, drivers shouldn’t worry about a spike in gas prices, said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA. The state of emergency that Gov. Rick Scott declared holds prices from jumping too much.
“They can’t just suddenly jack up their rates by a dollar or something,” Jenkins said.
If drivers spot price-gouging at a station, they should call 311 or the 305-547-3300 hotline to report it.
Miami Beach drivers can park for free in city lots beginning noon Wednesday.
Miami Parking Authority will close its office and garages. Garages will lock down from midnight Wednesday through Thursday afternoon for everyone except for keycard customers. Those customers will only be able to access the garages at College Station, Knight Center and Oak Avenue Plaza. If a hurricane watch is issued for Miami-Dade, the Miami Vehicle Protection program will go into effect. This allows each household to park one car for free in a municipal garage.
As for the roads, all county drawbridges will be locked down beginning at 8 p.m. Wednesday, and the PortMiami tunnel will close its water-tight gates at 1 p.m. Wednesday.
Tolls have been suspended on the Shepard Broad Causeway/SR922 until further notice.
The governor said traffic tolls are suspended in some counties where there are evacuations, which as of 2 p.m. Wednesday only included Brevard County.
As is company policy during states of emergency, Uber capped its surge pricing at double and messaged its drivers to be aware of the storm and follow all safety instructions.
“We are keeping a close eye on the path of the storm. Our main focus is on the safety of Uber driver partners and riders,” company spokesman Javi Correoso said. “We encourage drivers and riders to pay close attention to information coming from the authorities.”
Lyft is keeping an eye on the storm as well, spokeswoman Mary Caroline Pruitt said.
“We aim to get our passengers reliably and safely where they need to be, and will be keeping a close eye on the hurricane,” she said in a statement.
By Train, Bus
Miami-Dade Transit will stop operations at 9 a.m. Thursday, unless weather conditions change. Go to www.miamidade.gov/emergency/ for updates.
The Coral Gables Trolley will not run Thursday.
All American Airlines flights into Miami International Airport, Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and Palm Beach International Airport are canceled Thursday. Limited departures will take off before noon Thursday, but all other departures are canceled, said Alexis Aran Coello, a spokeswoman for the airline. The airline plans to be back in full operation at noon Friday.
Travelers who are affected by the cancellations can rebook without fees or request a refund. Some airlines are allowing passengers to rebook travel if they are headed to places that will be affected by the storm.
The Coast Guard strongly encourages boaters to stay off the water through Columbus Day. Storm debris can sink underwater, creating unseen danger zones for boaters.
Boats should be pulled out of the water and safely stored. Boat owners should store all emergency life vests, life rings and smaller boats.
If the storm wrecks a boat, do not try to board it; hire a professional to salvage a wreck.
PortMiami Tunnel is closed. PortMiami’s bridge and rail will close at 10 p.m. Wednesday. As of Wednesday evening, Port Everglades remained open to outbound truck activity, but waterside facilities are closed.
County marinas close at 8 a.m. Thursday, and cargo terminals are already closed.
Some cruises have been rerouted, the order of ports shuffled or trips refunded. Check with your specific cruise line for updates.
Miami Herald staff writer Kristen Clark contributed to this report.