Florida to rely more heavily on tolls, gas tax unsustainable - Prasad FDOT sec
By Peter Samuel
Declaring gas tax financing of roads "not sustainable" the Florida secretary of transportation Ananth Prasad said recently that tolls will be the first choice for financing all new capacity and doing major bridge replacements in Florida. According to the prepared text for remarks at a talk in Marco Island August 5 the state's transport chief said: "Florida will be implementing a policy that all new capacity on interstates and expressways and widening and replacement of all major river crossings should be tolled where feasible or at the very least tolls should complement traditional funding in delivering the improvements and new capacity."
The secretary of transportation announced toll projects the state intends to press ahead with including a numnber under toll concessions or public private partnerships (P3s). This includes toll managed lanes (MLs).
Toll managed lanes
Prasad said "building on the success" of the I-95 toll lanes in Miami Dade County FDOT will be pursuing new "managed lanes" (MLs) other places in the state:
- I-4 managed lanes in Orlando will be the subject of an investment grade traffic and revenue study to support a start in 2013
- Palmetto Expressway Miami Dade
- I-75 Broward County managed lanes to be part of a P3 RFP
- extension of I-95MLs into Broward County where I-595MLs are currently in construction
Prasad said that Governor Rick Scott was determined to accelerate construction while the private sector had spare capacity and while people and companies were looking for work. They wanted to bring a billion dollars' worth of projects into the current fiscal year. He listed projects to be advanced as:
- US27 Polk County
- I-75 Lee County
- SR9B Duval County
- Quincy By-Pass Gadsden County
- SR79 Public-Private Partnership, Holmes and Washington counties
- I-95 Indian River County
- I-95 Brevard County
- SR823/NW 57 Avenue Miami-Dade County ?
- SR50 Hernando County
- Pinellas Bayway, Pinellas County
- Veterans Expressway Hillsborough County
- sections of the Wekiva Parkway, Orange County (construction by late 2012)
- First Coast Outer Beltway Jacksonville, Northeast Florida
- widening of the Homestead Extension of Florida's Turnpike Miami-Dade County
- the widening of the mainline Turnpike in Osceola and Orange counties
- conversion to all-electronic tolling of the mainline of Florida's Turnpike
Of the adoption of AET Prasad said: "The adoption of this technology will save millions of dollars and will improve the commuter experience by keeping traffic constantly moving. These are exciting times."
Late September or early October they plan to hold an Industry Forum onm their plans including P3 opportunities.
Prasad praised "highlights" of the US House transport committee's proposed reauthorization including:
- spending only what it takes in which he contrasted with the US Senate's proposals as "not responsible"
- a blanket OK to tolling new interstate capacity (Prasad said nothing about the continued ban proposed by chairman Mica on tolling for interstate reconstruction, operations and maintenance and and traffic management)
- environmental streamlining cutting permit time in half, all reviews in maximum 270 days, statutory deadlines for US agency responses, and adding thresholds and categorical exclusions
Text of prepared remarks:
Details on projects:
All-electronic no-cash tolling on Floridas Turnpike: