12/26/2019Florida Activists Want Voter Approval For Toll Roads
Proposed constitutional amendment in Florida would require voter approval of toll road projects in the state.
Florida activists want to put an end to the proliferation of toll roads in the Sunshine State. The group "No More Tolls" is circulating a petition to put the issue to voters in the form of a constitutional amendment giving the public a say in whether new roads should be free or not.
"Prior to the collection of any toll or toll increase by any governmental entity on toll roads, high-occupancy toll lanes, or express toll lanes, the toll or toll increase shall be approved by a plurality of votes cast by eligible voters in the next election scheduled by the county or municipality within which the toll is to be collected," the proposal states.
Florida has more pay roads than any other state, taking $3,479,149,000 from drivers in 2016, according to federal statistics -- second only to Pennsylvania and New York which each collect about $3.9 billion annually. Tolling companies have invested heavily in the state, donating to politicians who have responded with plans to "fast track" another 350 miles of pay routes throughout the state. These include the Suncoast Connector, the Northern Turnpike Connector and the Southwest-Central Florida Connector.
Motorists have been left dealing with the problems caused by tolling, including the failure of the SunPass toll transponder system that went live in June 2018. Accidents have also increased as lanes have been narrowed and road shoulders eliminated to accommodate the tolling infrastructure. The public has little say in the approval process for these projects.
"Tollmageddon is being reaped upon the state of Florida by the non-elected officials of the Florida Department of Transportation, Miami-Dade Expressway Authority, Central Florida Expressway Authority, Tampa-Hillsorough Expressway Authority and other tolling authorities," the initiative's sponsor explained in a fundraising message. "Drivers are being unfairly tolled/taxed and must come together to ensure that the power to decide on whether tolls and toll increases are necessary is given to voters... Help us send the message...No more tolls without voter approval!"
The group wants to raise $700,000 to cover the cost of collecting the 700,000 valid signatures from registered voters required to place the proposal on the ballot.