Turnpike Extension going cashless by mid-February

By Richard Yager….
Motorists using any part of Florida’s Turnpike Extension will need SunPass automated toll deductions by mid-February or be subject to monthly “Toll-By-Plate” billings.

Conversions to Open Road Tolling (ORT) have been underway this year at the three major Kendall interchanges — SW 120th Street, Kendall Drive (SW 88th Street) and Bird Road (SW 40th Street). SunPass-only accesses already are in place at NW 74th Street and NW 106th Street interchanges.

The prepaid tolling devices will replace all manned tollbooths along the entire length of the 47-mile route from Florida City (Milepost 0) to Miramar (Milepost 47) by the third or fourth week of February 2011, according to Sonyha Rodriguez-Miller, spokesperson for the Turnpike Operations Center based in Fort Lauderdale.

“Once remaining toll plaza conversions over the 47-mile Turnpike Extension are completed, the conversion from cash to ORT will only take 24 to 48 hours,” she added. “At that time, the extension will become the first South Florida section to require ORT SunPass tolling over its entire distance.”

The next turnpike conversion is planned from the Golden Glades interchange in North Miami-Dade to I-595 in Broward County, currently scheduled to begin toll plaza conversions in late 2011 or 2012 with completion by 2014.

Appearing before the Nov. 8 meeting of Kendall Federation of Homeowner Associations, Rodriguez-Miller explained the need to enlist in the SunPass program.

She detailed the advantages of the new $25 SunPass portable unit attached by suction cups to the inside of the car windshield, allowing use on another vehicle.

Most Sunpass holders use the permanently mounted “SunPass Mini” that sells for $4.99, registered as a credit against future tolls.

Portables and minis are available at several major retail outlets, including Publix, CVS Pharmacy, Navarro, Sedano’s, as well as Turnpike gas stations and gift shops.

Motorists without SunPass using the Extension after conversion will be charged for Turnpike miles by “Toll-By-Plate,” the system in which cameras located on overhead gantries photograph each vehicle license plate and bill its holder for both the toll and a $2.50 administrative charge on a monthly basis.

Currently, most car rental companies allow customers to use SunPass lanes by charging a $2 service fee plus any tolls due, charged back to the credit card account for the car rental, said Rodriguez-Miller, advising all motorists to check on any ORT arrangements at time of rental.

She also noted the new Web link www.fl511.com as a continuing source of information for Florida motorists needing updates on the state’s roadway system and travel conditions. For Turnpike information, log on to www.FloridasTurnpike.com; SunPass at www.SunPass.com, or call 1-800-749- 7453.

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