MIAMI (AP) - Motorists traveling on Florida's Turnpike in Miami-Dade County will no longer need to empty their pockets searching for change. Starting Saturday, toll collection will be entirely cashless.
Toll collection along the 47-mile southern stretch of the turnpike will be done entirely through SunPass or through a monthly toll-by-plate billing. The registered owner of the vehicle will be sent a monthly bill by mail. It will cost 25 cents more for two-axle vehicles compared to the SunPass rate, along with a monthly $2.50 administrative fee.
Sonyha Rodriguez-Miller said the switch to automatic tolling will make travel swifter and easier and safer. Crashes at four toll plazas were reduced by about 60 percent when the electronic tolling was introduced, she said.
Officials say the transition will take about 48 hours, meaning there could be some traffic delays over the President's Day holiday weekend. The change is part of a multiyear plan to get rid of all toll booths on the turnpike. The next phase will be in Fort Lauderdale in the next couple of years, Rodriguez-Miller said.
About 270 toll positions at 37 plazas are being affected by Saturday closings. Jobs have been found for 60 of those employees, and another 20 are either retiring or going back to school. The remaining 190 are being laid-off.
"We have provided assistance," Rodriguez-Miller said. "This is nothing something that comes as a surprise. Everybody's known for about two years that we were going to make this change."
Already, a majority of tolls are done through SunPass.
"I think the SunPass customers, they generally see that benefit," Rodriguez-Miller said. "This is not something that is just happening here in Florida. This is kind of like the wave of the present and the future as the technology advances."
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)