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Changes may be coming to county bridge tolls

By Staff | May 12, 2009

Lee County Department of Transportation is considering changing the way tolls are structured at three area bridges.

DOT officials are hoping to simplify what they consider to be an overly complicated toll system, while generating money for a cash strapped department that generated $38 million last year, a seven percent drop.

Deputy Director Paul Wingard warned that pinpointing revenue shortfalls as the driving force behind the proposed change would be simplifying the issue. He said LeeWay is one of – if not the most – complicated tolling systems in the nation, and often forces drivers to make the wrong decisions about which best suits their needs.

“One of the primary reasons (we’re thinking of change) is because the system is so complex,” Wingard said. “We have so many different options people often don’t select the right program.”

The proposed changes would effect only transponder users. Daily commuters to and from Cape Coral at the Midpoint and Cape bridges who are enrolled in a discount program would pay $23 per month on tolls. There is also a proposed flat transponder fee of $1.30 per trip, or $26 a month.

Changes to the Sanibel Causeway could be similar, with $45 a month for commuters who traverse the bridge before 8:30 a.m., or a flat rate of $3 per trip, or $60 a month.

Wingard cautioned that because of the system’s complexity, any changes are bound to cause some commuters to pay more.

“We can’t make a change where someone doesn’t pay more money. If we change anything that’s going to happen,” Wingard said. “We’re OK (on revenues), but we’re close … so, is somebody going to have to pay more? You bet.”

DOT presented the changes to the Board of County Commissioners at a planning meeting last Monday, but the board made no decision. They requested more information from Wingard for their next planning meet on June 1.

Depending on what the board decides, the changes won’t come into effect until November first of this year.

Wingard also said that the DOT was looking to commissioners for input on the matter.