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Council discusses county toll talks

By Staff | May 6, 2009

During Tuesday’s City Council session, Mayor Mick Denham brought up the subject of the Lee County’s Commission meeting earlier this week, during which discussions about altering the toll schedule for three bridges – including the Sanibel Causeway – were brought forward.

“What I was told was that the commissioners were as surprised as we were to hear about it,” said Denham, who explained that the comment came from a representative in Commissioner Bob Janes’ office.

On Monday, commissioners heard from members of the Lee County Department of Transportation, who suggested that they revisit the structure of the LeeWay discount toll program and the schedule of fees at the Sanibel Causeway, Cape Coral and Midpoint Memorial bridges. Currently, the rate that users of the LeeWay transponders, which allows them to bypass cash lanes via a variety of prepaid toll programs.

For example, drivers crossing the causeway normally pay $6 per trip. With the program discount, they may pay a flat fee annually or every six months up front, or pay a discounted rate of $2 per trip.

Under consideration by the commission is a hike to $3 per trip at the Sanibel Causeway, along with a raise to $1.30 per trip at the two Cape Coral bridges. Because a variable toll pricing program is in place at Cape Coral and Midpoint Memorial bridges, currently drivers using transponders pay as little as 75 cents per crossing.

Fellow council member Jim Jennings reported that he attempted to reach commissioner Ray Judah’s office on Tuesday morning without success, adding that he was not in favor of a variable toll pricing program – which might be as little as $1.50 per trip – on the causeway.

“I thought that the (variable toll pricing) issue was put to rest, but it’s obviously still simmering with their staff somewhere,” Denham said.

Part of the reason the subject of adjusting the LeeWay toll programs was brought forth at the commissioners meeting was a reported seven percent drop in revenue, which generated $38 million last year. However, county officials were hesitant to make a decision on the issue Monday. They have requested that Department of Transportation staffers provide additional information, as well as more alternatives to consider, at their next meeting.

Denham assured the audience at Tuesday’s session that he intends to monitor those talks.

“This is something that I commit to you I will personally keep up with,” he added.