Rollback Tolls: Citizens Pissed Off About the Tyranny of Pay Roads

Categories: Road Rage
tollation.jpg
It's a movement when you have a theme song.
That sound dinging across the state this Sunday isn't just the litany of SunPass sensors going off on the Turnpike. It's the fists of outraged drivers pinging off the ceiling. Tolls on all state roads will rise by 25 percent this weekend -- from $1 to $1.25 -- sparking road-fee fury throughout Florida.

But that doesn't mean all drivers are taking the hike sitting down. In fact, a growing insurgency is targeting the agencies raiding drivers' wallets across the Sunshine State. Advocates such as Carlos Garcia, co-chair of watchdog group Roll Back Tolls, argue that toll agencies discourage investment in public transit and create a de facto tax on drivers.

"If we all added up the money that we paid on tolls, there'd be a lynch mob," Garcia says.

That's Garcia on the right in this awesome music video, in which they blast the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall":

Garcia's group focuses its ire on the MDX, showing up at its meetings and agitating against its leadership. Although tolls on county roads such as the Snapper Creek and Dolphin expressways won't rise this week, he says Dade's drivers still pay almost twice as much per mile as cars traveling state-run highways.

That wasn't the point of MDX, which was founded in 1994. Former Miami Dade Commissioner Arthur Teele, who championed the agency and argued that by generating new revenue and not sending profits to Tallahassee, MDX could pump money into improving local expressways.

Problem is, Garcia argues, MDX has been too successful. Fueled by billions in bonds on Wall Street, the agency's sole focus is on building ever more toll roads in Dade. In its first year, it took only $20 million from local drivers; last year, it was $121 million. There are dozens of ongoing MDX projects, all aimed at increasing the number tollable roads. (MDX didn't seem too concerned about the complaints. The agency sent Riptide a signature-less email stating, "MDX is funded almost entirely by toll revenue. We receive no state or federal funds." Several members of its board declined to comment.)

Garcia and others argue that Dade would be better served by models such as Dallas, where a percentage of tolls is earmarked for improving public transit. "Other cities are saying, 'It's not good that we're always going everywhere in our cars,' " he says. "The reality is, MDX as it's currently set up can't work toward that goal."

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Denny Wood
Denny Wood

The current Mayor forums and County Commission forums are the best place to "just say no" to more toll roads like the MDX bad idea for the current South Dade Busway. Of course, the current elected officials will say no, but their behavior will be different. Pick the alternative candidates, two are good, including myself. www.dennywood,net

Derek
Derek

I agree with using some of that money to Improve public transit... I still can't believe we were even ranked in the top 10.

RollBackTolls
RollBackTolls

Actually, many drivers are starting to take alternative, non-toll routes in protest.  Personally, I have reduced my toll bill by 40% by avoiding the 874/878 MDX toll road.  MDX did put a toll on 878 which never had a toll before.

RollBackTolls
RollBackTolls

MDX is undermining the creation of a functional transit system in Miami-Dade County.

Tired of MDX
Tired of MDX

....I wonder what would happen if a majority of drivers in Miami-Dade decided to not use the toll roads for just one day? Hmmmm..

seep
seep

tolls = communism

Jim Camp
Jim Camp

Well, that just means that motorists on the free roads are going to have to be more efficient, that is no tailgating or stopping, not using their cell phones so that traffic actually moves ?

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