JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - After 31 years, the Florida Department of Transportation is collecting tolls again in Jacksonville.
There are two seperate types of toll roads you need to know: First Coast Expressway is a toll road while I-295 has Express Lanes. They both collect tolls, but they not in the same way.
Quick facts on First Coast Expressway:
- There are five portions of the First Coast Expressway project that comprise the new tolls in the Jacksonville area, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
- I-10 to N. Argyle Forest Blvd.
- N. Argyle Forest Blvd. to Blanding Blvd.
- State Road 21 to North of State Road 16
- North of State Road 16 to East of County Road 209
- Shands Bridge to I-95
- Toll collection on the First Coast Expressway began on July 13.
- Florida has more miles of toll roads than any other state, according to tollsmart.com.
- FDOT recommends drivers buy a SunPass for toll roads, but an EPass can also be used.
Quick facts on I-295 Express Lanes:
- The express lanes require a toll and there is a $25 fine for not paying it.
- The Florida Department of Transportation recommends buying a SunPass. We found a list of where drivers can purchase one here.
- The two lanes stretch about 4.5 miles along I-295, starting at I-95 and continuing to the Buckman bridge. Orange delineators separate it from other drivers.
- FDOT installed cameras along the road to catch any drivers that use the lanes without paying a toll.
- “Express lanes are a management tool on the roadway where drivers can choose to use the express lanes and have a more predictable commute time,” said Hampton Ray, the Public Information Officer for FDOT in Northeast Florida.
- The toll prices are be based on how busy the roads are at the times, and signs will display the price above the lanes.
- Drivers will only be charged Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The Florida Department of Transportation has said drivers need to purchase a SunPass to use on I-295 express lanes to avoid a fine or on toll roads like the First Coast Expressway to not pay a toll-by-plate administrative fee.
But Action News Jax reporter Ben Becker started asking questions about the amount of money FDOT charges drivers to buy SunPass stickers and portable transponders. He found out tht there are numerous ways to put the brakes on higher bills.
“We heard they would start collecting tolls last November so we got one,” driver Art Parker said.
Parker said he bought his portable SunPass transponder to save 25% on tolls as opposed to the toll-by-plate option, but parker isn’t saving as much money as he thought.
You probably have heard of SunPass, which is issued by FDOT, but you may not know of E-PASS, which is run by the Central Florida Expressway Authority - both work on all local and state express lanes and toll roads.
A SunPass sticker will cost you $4.99 and a portable transponder costs $19.99. Meantime, an E-PASS sticker is free as long as you load it with $10 and a portable transponder is $9.95.
“Why didn’t they tell me that?” Parked asked Becker. “I’m telling you now,” Becker said.
Becker did discover FDOT launched a little known promotion in April that doesn’t help drivers like Parker, but could help you now. If you purchase a sticker and activate it, you receive a $4.99 credit, making the SunPass sticker, in effect, free.
FDOT also tells Becker it’s working on a plan to offer free transponder stickers to drivers who are heavy toll-by-plate users, but they don’t know when it will launch. They do tell Becker, the agency has no plans to reduce the price of its $19.99 portable transponder.
“Would you do things differently?” Becker asked Parker. “If I knew about it sure I would, wouldn’t you?” responded Parker.
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