Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Expect Tolls to Cross River on Beltway; the Latest Transit Plan Calls for Demolishing the Two-Lane Shands Bridge

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Expect Tolls to Cross River on Beltway; the Latest Transit Plan Calls for Demolishing the Two-Lane Shands Bridge

Article excerpt

Byline: DAVID BAUERLEIN

The latest plan for building the outer beltway through Clay and St. Johns counties would tear down the 45-year-old Shands Bridge and replace it with a four-lane toll bridge.

The state has not determined what the bridge's toll would be but, based on previous studies, it would be $1.50.

In the past, state Department of Transportation officials have said that even if the state built a toll bridge, motorists would still have the choice of using the two-lane Shands Bridge free as they always have. But the DOT now says the beltway would attract far more traffic and toll money if the Shands Bridge were demolished when the outer beltway is built.

"This is a horrible decision," Clay County Commissioner George Bush said Monday.

He said the only way to cross the river between Clay and St. Johns counties would be by paying a toll. The closest free crossing would be the Buckman Bridge in Jacksonville or going down to Palatka.

The $1.8 billion outer beltway would run from Branan Field-Chaffee Road in Clay County to Interstate 95 in St. Johns County. The Transportation Department announced its preferred route in August for the four-lane highway. The state has been studying tolls on the entire beltway to finance the construction.

The state still could switch back in favor of keeping the Shands Bridge alongside the outer beltway bridge, said Bill Henderson, a DOT district planning and environmental manager.

"But right now, we're looking at just having a toll bridge," he said.

He said if the state can round up enough money, the beltway could be built within a decade. Without tolls, it would take far longer, he said.

The kind of toll highway envisioned by the state would have no toll plazas where drivers stop to toss coins into a basket or hand money to an attendant. Instead, motorists would purchase a vehicle identification device attached to their windshields. They would travel at normal highway speed past toll checkpoints where the high-tech equipment would electronically record the vehicle and debit the owner's account.

Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, which oversees toll roads throughout the state, recently did a study of how many motorists would use a toll bridge if the Shands Bridge were eliminated. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.