Lee County considering making cashless toll system permanent

Gone are the days where someone would greet you and collect your cash at the tollbooth. COVID-19 brought a new era of cashless tolls and Lee County wants it to stay that way.

But the change could cost you an additional $2 every time you pass a tollbooth in Southwest Florida.

The cashless system may become permanent, doubling prices for some drives.

However, the county is offering a solution so people don’t end up with higher tolls.

As long as you get a transponder, the toll to cross the Midpoint Bridge, the Cape Coral Bridge and the Sanibel Causeway would remain the same.

Lee County plans to give away their Leeway transponder stickers for free. Sunpass and soon EZ-Pass also work with no jump in price.

But if you choose to cross a bridge without a transponder, and pay toll-by-plate, you will pay more.

“That’s the way the world is going, electronic everything so I think it makes sense,” said Jim Kelly, of Matlacha. 

Dennis Hohn, of Cape Coral, said it would probably be more efficient.

The change would bring efficiency, less congestion and minimize person-to-person contact.

On Tuesday, Lee County Commissioners talked about no longer taking cash and instead encouraging drivers to get a transponder sticker for their car.

“Drivers will have a choice,” said Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman. “They can get the free sticker, transponder and continue to pay the rates that they are paying today or if they want to keep doing it by mail, that would go up.”

The toll-by-plate rates would go from $2 to $4 to travel across the Midpoint Bridge to Cape Coral. And to Sanibel, the rates would go from $6 to $8.

“Four dollars might make us think twice about going to Cape Coral for dinner or something and same with Sanibel,” said Mary Jo Smith, of Fort Myers. 

Jorie Kelly, of Matlacha, said the $2 increase is a steep one for somebody on a fixed income.

“It could hurt a lot of people,” Jorie Kelly said.

Jim Kelly said with a transponder traffic seems to move along.

“You don’t have to worry about it, you don’t have to think about it. You’re just going through it,” Hohn said. “We need to be encouraged to do that.”

The plan is not yet final.

But under the new terms, prices for a motorcycle will increase.

Lee County said it would use the new money to pay off the bridges, improve roads and fund other projects in Cape Coral and Sanibel.

The county promises taxpayers will get a chance to weigh in on the plan before it finalizes anything.

 

Reporter:Breana Ross
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