A two-year battle against increased tolls and other Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) decisions gained added momentum with organized opposition of Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations members.
“The fight to put MDX under more direct control of the people will continue,” promised RollBackTolls co-founder Carlos Garcia during a KFHA-sponsored rally on Mar. 11. “It’s time we had a voice in these issues.
“Decisions are made each month by an appointed board of 13 members with little or no public participation,” he said, noting latest board decisions will cause a 50 percent increase on the Dolphin Expressway (SR 836) and Airport Expressway (SR 112), two of the five county highways operated by MDX.
“For the first time, we are now witnessing a groundswell of public protest that we intend to expand in the future, including changing the enabling statute that created the MDX back in 1996 to provide public participation in its decisions.”
“We signed up over 100 people at the Kendall meeting to add their names to our protest,” Garcia stated after the Mar. 11 meeting at the Civic Pavilion in Kendall Village Center.
KFHA sold memberships at $10 that included a T-shirt emblazoned in bright red letters: “Tell MDX Don’t Raise Toll Rates.”
RollBackTolls emerged as a protest of the MDX decision to erect Sunpass gantries on both the Shula (SR 874) and Snapper Creek (SR 878) expressways, primary commuting links for Kendall motorists to countywide and downtown Miami workplaces.
Tolling that has replaced previously free expressway travel has formed the base of growing anger among motorists, many reasoning that tax-built roads should not incur additional cost for their use.
“My main concern is what appears as an ever-increasing effort to impose user fees [by means of tolls] on motorists traversing what are essentially urban arteries,” said Miami-Dade District 7 Commissioner Xavier L. Suarez in a Mar. 11 letter to MDX members read by Garcia at the KHFA session.
The commissioner also charged that in 16 years, MDX has turned $60 million owed the State of Florida in 1997 to “over $1.2 billion – meaning that you have increased debt for those urban roadways by a staggering 2000 percent!”
Garcia warned that addition of speed lanes on the Palmetto Expressway (SR 826) now under study by Florida Department of Transportation was a forerunner of “another bad decision that ultimately would take away four free lanes by converting them to priority speed travel.”
For additional information, visit <www.rollbacktolls.com>, described as a “grass roots, watchdog group for toll roads in South Florida.