BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION: Florida DOT nixes plan to toll portion of bridge

Oct. 4, 2016

Span between Tampa/St. Petersburg was going to have an “auxiliary” lane

Florida drivers will not have to pay Howard in the future.

The Florida DOT had considered tolling an existing lane of the Howard Frankland Bridge in Tampa/St. Petersburg when a portion of it is rebuilt in 2019, but decided to drop the plan and cancelled two public hearings on the bridge replacement scheduled for the week of Oct. 3.

The plan called for adding a toll lane on one of the bridge’s four lanes. State officials put their spin on it, stating they were looking into an “auxiliary” lane that would connect the on-ramp in Pinellas County to the off-ramp in Hillsborough. The Florida DOT claimed motorists would not actually lose a free lane on the main span connecting Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The agency, however, softened its stance on Oct. 3.

“From the perspective of the people we serve in the Tampa region, the auxiliary lanes on the facility are currently travel lanes,” Florida DOT Secretary Jim Boxold said in a statement.

Adding the toll lane was supposed to be an interim step, according to the Florida DOT. The bigger plan was to build a wider bridge sometime in the future.

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