An expected toll increase on Card Sound Road in North Key Largo seems almost certain at a March 21 vote, but few concerns have reached Monroe County commissioners.
“There’s really been no panic,’ county Mayor David Rice said Friday. “I haven’t heard a thing about it from anyone.”
To have a new toll in place when all-electronic tolling begins June 2 to replace the former manned toll booth, commissioners must set the proposed per-axle cost at their meeting this month at the Murray E. Nelson Government and Cultural Center on Key Largo.
“I think most folks realize that the rate hasn’t changed in a very long time, and a $1 toll collected 20 years ago doesn’t go as far now,” Rice said. “We’re going to have to replace the [Card Sound] Bridge at some point, and that is going to be a very big deal.”
Estimated costs of replacing the Card Sound Bridge and smaller Card Sound Toll Authority spans on North Key Largo within the next 20 years likely will exceed $40 million, according to estimates.
County staff was instructed to craft a discount program for regular Card Sound users, many of whom are mainland residents working at the Ocean Reef Club. To qualify for discounts, registration with the SunPass system likely will be mandatory.
“Doubling the price really would have an effect on the ‘frequent fliers’ who use that road every day to get to work,” Rice said.
The electronic tolling and toll-by plate system will allow commissioners to raise prices incrementally. When being collected by toll takers, the $1 price made it simpler to make change and keep traffic moving.
Now the toll can be set for $1.20 or any other amount decided March 21. A tentative 10 a.m. time has been scheduled for the discussion. People wishing to comment in person on the toll rates must submit a written card before the discussion starts.
Kevin Wadlow: 305-440-3206