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Manny Diaz, Bryan Avila bills would get rid of tolled lanes on the Palmetto Expressway

The measures would make those express lanes available to all drivers for free.

A pair of measures from Sen. Manny Diaz and Rep. Bryan Avila would remove newly opened express lanes on the Palmetto Expressway and bar drivers from being charged a toll while using the road.

Both Diaz and Avila are Republicans who represent parts of Miami-Dade County, where the Palmetto Expressway is located.

Diaz, who serves Senate District 36, is in his first year as a Senator after serving in the House. His freshman Senate term coincided with the opening of express lanes on the Palmetto Expressway, also known as State Road 826.

In August, drivers began being charged to use those southbound express lanes. The northbound express lanes opened in September. The toll rates vary based on traffic congestion.

“Transportation and infrastructure are critical issues disproportionately affecting residents in District 36,” Diaz said in a statement on his legislation.

“By taking population growth, economic development, safety and quality of life into consideration, SB 1090 seeks to provide drivers with relief to the congestion on our roadways and the excessive tolls they are being subjected to.”

On Monday, Diaz filed his measure (SB 1090), which would make those express lanes available to all drivers for free.

“Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, effective July 1, 2020, the [Department of Transportation] may not operate any express lanes or impose any tolls on State Road 826,” the bill reads.

“As of July 1, 2020, the department shall remove all express lanes on State Road 826 and convert those lanes to general purpose lanes and remove the imposition of all tolls.”

Avila’s measure in the House (HB 829) shares similar language.

“Our residents need and deserve transportation solutions, not additional impediments,” Avila said.

“The express lanes on the Palmetto Expressway have led to significant delays in commute times and more congestion on this vital roadway. Senator Diaz Jr. and I remain steadfast in our commitment to remove policies that negatively impact our community.”

Written By

Ryan Nicol covers news out of South Florida for Florida Politics. Ryan is a native Floridian who attended undergrad at Nova Southeastern University before moving on to law school at Florida State. After graduating with a law degree he moved into the news industry, working in TV News as a writer and producer, along with some freelance writing work. If you'd like to contact him, send an email to ryan.t.nicol@gmail.com.

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