Jacksonville, FL - For the first time, we’re learning how much you will pay to get a quick ride on the Beltway within the next few years.
Tolled express lanes will be built in three phases along I-295 by 2016, with the first phase adding a lane in each direction on I-295 between I-95 and the Buckman Bridge. In order to use the express lanes, which will be built in addition to the existing lanes, there will be limited entry and exit points, and those will come with a price.
“Starting at 50 cents and then going up from there,” says Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise Public Information Manager Chad Huff.
Huff tells me while there is a definite minimum toll, it’s unclear right now just how high the bill could go. Part of the reason is the price itself changes through the course of the day.
“As demand increases on the facility, price goes up,” he says.
Think of the pricing like what you would pay for an airline ticket- if you want to travel on peak days or at peak times it will cost you more. Like with that, Huff says the toll price will be higher at high demand times or when there are serious congestion problems. The price itself will be configured through an algorithm and data obtained through the FDOT Traffic Management Center.
Huff says the express lanes aren’t necessarily intended for use often and daily because the price could be steep at some times. He says in Miami, where this system has been used for several years, it could cost up to 8 or 9 dollars to drive the entire stretch- which is longer than the Jacksonville lanes- at peak times. He tells me it’s not appropriate to compare the two cities at this time, however, because they need to see how many drivers choose to use the express lanes.
The second and third phases will include adding express lanes on I-295 between the Dames Point Bridge and I-95 and between JTB and State Road 9B. If you choose not to use the express lanes, the existing lanes of I-295 will remain as they are now.
The money generated from these tolls will fund maintenance on the Beltway.