Florida’s Toll Roads: New Initiatives to an Old Problem?
Florida might be known as the Sunshine State, but pretty soon “sunshine” might be replaced with “toll” if they keep building more roads with these centers.
When most drivers think of toll roads, those pesky little stops along major thoroughfares asking for exact change come to mind. They’re not wrong — they can be pesky! But they’re there for a reason. Florida leads the country in the highest number of toll roads per metropolitan area, with Central Florida at the front of the pack.
The Beachline Expressway (SR 528) was the first toll center built in Florida in 1967. The notorious I-4 was around by then, but more roads were needed and fast. Tolls quickly became the solution to help raise the money to build more roads without having to dip into state coffers.
Now, over 50 years later, avoiding toll roads in the Sunshine State is something of a challenge.
How many toll roads are there?
Orange County, Florida alone is dotted with 153 miles of toll roads, the most per square mile in Florida. The entire state has 719 miles of toll roads, which is more than the number of miles that run north to south across the state.
Which toll roads are the busiest?
The 5 major toll roads are:
- 528 Beachline Expressway
This one runs through Cape Canaveral, Celebration, Cocoa Beach, Kissimmee and Orlando.
2. Alligator Alley on I-75
Fort Lauderdale and Naples are the major cities that this toll road runs through.
3. Central Florida Greenway
Celebration, Kissimmee, Orlando and Azalea Park can all be found along this road.
4. Florida’s Turnpike
This toll road goes through Fort Lauderdale, Fort Pierce and Boca Raton.
5. Suncoast Parkway
Tampa, along with Land O’ Lakes and Spring Hill, is the major city Suncoast meets.
All of these tolls are packed with traffic, making them the most effective spots to get the dough that pays for their upkeep.
What purpose do tolls serve?
In order to improve infrastructure and pay for the upkeep of major and minor thoroughfares, Florida built multiple toll roads to charge visitors and residents alike for driving on their streets. Every year, over $1 billion in tolls is raked into the coffers of the state, which means the infrastructure is currently in great shape and the roads are pot-hole free. And that’s not including the taxpayers’ dollars that also go towards upkeep.
But it doesn’t stop there.
Lawmakers are pushing to build an additional 80 miles of toll roads to be completed by 2040.[H2] Why are there so many toll roads in Florida?
There have been many similar questions between Florida’s taskforce members and drivers about why new toll roads are needed. One side of the argument is that these roads are consumer choice and optional to drive on. The counter-argument is that these roads add commute time and cost $1,200 a year during a daily commute that runs through just 2 tolls.
With so many visitors every year, keeping Florida’s highways and intersections free of congestion is a major concern, and toll centers help to relieve some of that. Toll proponents say that toll roads also help make non-toll roads safer to drive on. But considering that Florida is repeatedly one of the worst states for car accidents, that argument often falls short.
When is enough going to be enough?
This is the million-dollar question that no one seems to have the answer to. Taskforce members seem to be just as confused as Florida drivers, and state officials and city planners are being just as vague.
What is certain is that plans are in place to build even more toll roads in Florida.