Toll rates for the Garcon Point Bridge in Milton, Florida, will be lowered after Governor DeSantis directed the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to reduce the rates to match FDOT facilities across the state.
For drivers with SunPass, the rate will be reduced from $4.50 to $2.30, and for drivers paying cash, the rate will reduce from $5 to $2.75.
“Five dollars is just too much to pay for the more than 6,000 drivers that use the Garcon Point Bridge every day,” said Governor Ron DeSantis in a press release. “I am pleased to announce that today I am directing FDOT Secretary Thibault to reduce the toll rates on the bridge as soon as possible to bring them in line with other facilities across the state and erase 20 years of rate increases.”
The Garcon Point Bridge is also known as “Bo’s Bridge” after the former Democratic House Speaker, Bolley “Bo” Johnson. Johnson was the catalyst for the bridge’s construction which started in 1992 and was finished in 1999 amid environmental concerns and over $158,000 in fines by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and The Army Corps of Engineers.
The 3.5-mile bridge over Pensacola Bay has been in financial trouble since the beginning and has been called a “boondoggle,” or waste of money, on several occassions. Opponents of the bridge said that there was not enough traffic to efficiently pay the $95 million it took to build it. According to NWF Daily News, the Florida Division of Bond Finance showed that the bridge’s debt reached $135 million in 2017.
In the 22 years since the bridge was completed, bondholders who own the bridge have encouraged FDOT to increase the toll rates multiple times, with the most recent coming in a lawsuit filed in 2018. That suit was successful, and is responsible for increasing the toll rates to their current prices.
In 2020 however, Hurricane Sally caused for the closure of the Pensacola Bay Bridge which resulted in thousands of people using the Garcon Point Bridge in its place. During that time, Governor DeSantis waived the tolls and issued the toll suspension through July 6th, 2021.
To combat future challenges to the toll rates on the Garcon Point Bridge, the press release concludes by stating, “To ensure that the toll rates remain low, today, Governor DeSantis also directed FDOT to reach a settlement with the Trustee and the bondholders to purchase the bridge and transfer control to the Florida Turnpike Enterprise. Today, Governor DeSantis also announced that he will be asking the Florida Legislature to take action to codify the lower toll rates into law.”
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