The Miami-Dade Expressway Authority voted Tuesday night on a plan to add a higher surcharge for non-Sunpass users who are billed by plate on the Dolphin and Airport expressways.
The increase is part of the MDX's plan to replace manned toll booths with an all-electronic toll collection system. Construction on the new system is expected to begin mid-2013.
Sunpass users will continue to see the toll fees deducted from their accounts. Non-Sunpass users, or toll-by-plate drivers, will receive an invoice in the mail. The cost of each toll will be higher for drivers who do not have a Sunpass.
The MDX board voted 7-6 on the second price option it was considering. Tolls for Sunpass users would be lowered at some locations.
Here are the changes planned for State Road 112, the Airport Expressway:
- Tolls that are currently collected in the eastbound lanes @ NW 12th Ave are currently $1. The toll cost will be reduced to 35 cents for Sunpass users. Toll-by-plate users will pay twice that rate.
- Another toll will be created at NW 32nd Ave. for eastbound and westbound lanes at the same rate.
Here are the changes planned for State Road 836, the Dolphin Expressway:
- Tolls at NW 17th Ave. and 97th Ave. would be reduced to 70 cents. Toll-by-plate users will pay twice that rate.
- New tolls would be added at NW 57th Ave. at the same rate.
- A new toll will be created for WB drivers at NW 17th Ave. at the same rate.
The new toll rates will go into effect summer of 2014.
Last year, MDX collected more than $122 million in tolls on the five expressways they manage. The changes could double that number.
A public hearing was held Tuesday over the plan to add a higher surcharge for non-Sunpass users.
"It's unjustified because there's a lot of projects there that you would have to question whether we really actually need right now," said Carlos Garcia with RollBackTolls.com. "Just because MDX has a work project program, a wish list, if you will, of projects, doesn't mean that they automatically get to impose a toll tax on us, increase, to fund that work project program. We understand that roads need to be paid for and they need to be maintained, okay, but the toll rate increase is unjustified."
"If no decision is made by the board, there's a lot of projects that will to be delayed and alternatives will have to be figured out," said MDX spokeswoman Cindy Polo-Sbrante before the vote on Tuesday. "But basically if nothing happens, we've been able to improve since 2005 to 2011 from the tenth most congested city in the nation to the fifteenth most congested, so we're headed in the right direction. If we do nothing, it's expected that congestion will increase by 25 percent by the year 2025."