FDOT-operated toll bridges, roads still collecting tolls, just not with bills of cash
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To help reduce the spread of coronavirus and help keep toll collectors safe, the Florida Department of Transportation’s Turnpike Enterprise on Thursday temporarily stopped accepting bills of cash to pay tolls at FDOT-operated roads and bridges, including the Mid-Bay Bridge.
Tolls still are required, but they are being collected through an electronic process. Customers can still utilize the "Exact Coin Lanes" where there is no toll operator present to remit coin payment at those locations, according to the FDOT.
At noon Thursday, toll workers left the booth and the toll system went to an all-electronic service, Mid-Bay Bridge Authority Director Van Fuller said Monday.
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"As part of this initiative, customers should continue driving through the toll plaza and pay attention to overhead and portable signs," FDOT officials said in a news release.
In an email to the Daily News, local resident Shannyn Stevenson complained the Mid-Bay Bridge tolls were not suspended even though Florida is under a state of emergency.
"With food shortage and limited funds due to loss of work ... some of us are having to use the bridge to shop at other grocery stores," Stevenson said Monday. "The few employees who have jobs and need to get to work to provide service so we can still go to the grocery stores are still being charged."
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Fuller noted that the governor has the authority to suspend all toll payments and has done so in the past, such as when evacuations were ordered because of an approaching major storm.
Besides the state’s declaration, a state of emergency has been declared by various local governments, including Okaloosa and Walton counties and the cities of Destin and Fort Walton Beach.
Judging by the significant decrease in drivers on the Mid-Bay Bridge, the declarations have proven to be effective in keeping many people at home, Fuller said.
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During the indefinite halt in accepting bill-of-cash toll payments, SunPass customers will continue to have tolls posted to their accounts, according to the FDOT.
"Vehicles without a SunPass will be billed for toll transactions at the posted cash toll rate and receive a Toll Enforcement Invoice in the mail," FDOT officials said. "The invoice administrative fee ($2.50) will temporarily be waived.
"Drivers who elect to become a SunPass customer will receive several benefits including a discount on tolls of nearly 25%."