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Toll Hike For Sunpass Users On State Roads

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) – It's a little more expensive for SunPass users to use Florida's Turnpike .

A 1.6 percent toll increase went into effect Wednesday, July 1st, due to a 2007 state law that allows state officials to adjust SunPass and toll-by-plate rates every year based on changes in the consumer price index. The change will add up to an extra penny or two at most toll plazas.

"So as the cost of living goes up, the cost of maintaining the road goes up as well," Chad Huff with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

The cost of a trip the entire length of Florida's Turnpike, 309 miles from Wildwood to Florida City, will now cost $20.41, as opposed to $20.07, for SunPass customers.

That means if you are travelling from Glades Road to I-595 you will now pay $1.32 instead of $1.30.  If you are travelling from the Golden Glades to West Palm, you will pay $4.65 instead of the $3.73.  If you are headed to Disney from Hollywood Blvd, you will pay $17.40 instead of the $13.38 you used to pay.

"Toll-by-plate" motorists, who are billed when a photo is taken of the vehicle's license plate passing through a tolling location, have also been hit with a 1.6 percent increase.

The toll hikes are expected to generate about $11 million a year.

Other roads affected by the change include the Sawgrass Expressway, the Veterans Expressway, the Suncoast Parkway and the Homestead Extension.

Florida Department of Transportation-owned toll roads seeing a similar increase are Alligator Alley, Pinellas Bayway and Sunshine Skyway.

Chris Wills who is part of a political action committee trying to allow voters to decide if and when toll increases should go into effect.

"It's a small increase but people are paying so much in tolls but for a family working paycheck to paycheck it could break the bank," said Wills.

He's started the No More Tolls petitions.

"So far, 5,000 people have signed it. It requires 700-thousand signatures to get it on the 2016 November ballot. The vote would allow voters to decide if they want to vote on toll increases.

"We have tourists coming to visit the Sunshine State and leaving thinking they visited the Sunpass state," said Wills.

Meantime, motorists overall are not happy about the hike while others understand the need to raise money to maintain the roads.

Cash rates, which are higher than those charged to SunPass users, will not change before 2017. The law only allows cash rates to be adjusted, also based on the CPI, once every five years.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.


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