Lawmakers Friday agreed on a measure to eliminate the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) as part of legislation reworking the county’s toll system.
As reported by the Miami Herald, MDX officials have already indicated they will file a lawsuit challenging the legislation.
The bill (HB 385), sponsored by Rep. Bryan Avila, would set up a new organization called the Greater Miami Expressway Agency and would freeze toll rates until 2029. Current MDX members would be blocked from serving on the new agency.
Lawmakers, including former state Rep. and current Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuñez, have blasted MDX for ignoring residents’ concerns. But Standard & Poor’s has said a new agency would likely receive a lower credit rating, which would hamper its ability to borrow money.
Among the other changes in the bill include a 25 percent rebate for Miami-Dade County residents who utilize the toll system frequently. Once a Miami-Dade SunPass holder incurs $12.50 in tolls each month, they become eligible for the rebate.
“For too long, our residents have paid for transportation improvements in Miami-Dade County without receiving the benefits they deserve,” Avila said following the bill’s passage.
“In fact, residents have suffered from an unaccountable and arrogant MDX which has implemented out of control toll increases and ignored state law attempting to provide toll relief for the people. Today, we have moved one step closer to improve our residents’ quality of life and our local transportation needs.”
Avila added on the floor Friday that the rebate could be expanded to residents of surrounding counties, such as Broward and Monroe, in future legislation.
Sen. Manny Diaz, who sponsored the Senate version of the bill, also spoke highly of the new legislation.
“I made a promise to the people of my district to get toll reform done, and it is an honor to work with Chairman Avila to provide this relief for our constituents right now,” said Diaz.
“While tolling and public-private partnerships can help us get roads built more quickly, the tolls themselves should never be used as a method of super-taxation or to build quasi-governmental empires. For too long, Miami residents and taxpayers have been burdened with a road toll system that is out of control. Some have wrongly suggested that more bureaucracy is the answer.
“The right answer is to reduce tolls, provide more accountability and transparency, and be more responsive to the needs of the hardworking families of Florida. That is what this bill does.”