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Bill Would Eliminate Toll Lanes On Free Interstates

Florida Department of Transportation
Map of the proposed Tampa TBX project

A bill that would eliminate building toll lanes on existing free interstate highways has moved through the transportation committee of the Florida Senate.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Miami Republican Frank Artiles. He says charging tolls to avoid congestion is unfair to low-income drivers.

Artiles says the state Department of Transportation is claiming it will cost the state $1.7 billion over 10 years, or $170 million per year. He calls that inaccurate, saying abolishing tolls would cost $53 million a year.

One of those projects - called TBX - would widen interstates flowing into Tampa with toll express lanes.

That was referenced during a conference call Wednesday by 1000 Friends of Florida. Thomas Hawkins is with the environmental group, which opposes new toll lanes.

"Those are often projects that come at the expense of urban neighborhoods that they travel through," he said. "So we think that adopting tolls for new express lanes is a process that needs to be re-thought."

A companion bill has been introduced in the Florida House of Representatives.

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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