Palmetto Expressway

Fate of Palmetto Express Lanes To Be Decided During Florida's Session

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Nearly a quarter of a million people take the Palmetto Expressway every day. It's one of the few expressways in Miami that does not toll drivers for taking it.

That was until mid-2019, when construction began on express lanes for a portion of the major highway.

According to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), drivers who chose to use the new lanes would pay a minimum of 50 cents per segment.

The segments ran northbound and southbound between West Flagler Street and Northwest 154th Street as well as I-75 spanning to Northwest 107th Street.

The announcement was initially met with outrage, but that did not stop Miami-Dade from debuting the $262 million project in September of last year.

Now, just four months after toll collection began, Florida lawmakers are trying to nix the Express Lanes.

A bill, introduced by State Representatives Bryan Avila and Senator Manny Diaz Jr., seeks to eliminate express lanes on the Palmetto and prohibit tolls from being created on the highway.

They say the tolls have caused more traffic for residents in Hialeah.

In a statement, Avila said: "Our residents have experienced more congestion than ever and significant delays in their daily trips. Our community deserves transportation solutions, not more obstacles."

Simultaneously, Diaz said that "the express lanes project did not take into account population growth or economic development in the area."

The measure will be voted on during Florida's 2020 legislative session, which started Monday.

So, so far what have the express lanes accomplished in their short span of existence?

According to FDOT, between September 23 and November 21, 2019, $2 million in toll revenue has been collected.

During peak hours (4:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m.), express lanes have cut travel times nearly in half. The general lanes usually take drivers 17 minutes to get through, while express lane drivers take 9 minutes, according to FDOT.

Whether or not the express lanes live past March, when Florida session concludes, will be seen.

Check in with NBC 6 for continuous coverage of Florida's 2020 Session.

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