The Pasco County Commission has approved an agreement to temporarily pay for tolls on the Suncoast Parkway — to accommodate the complete opening of the Ridge Road extension at that interchange.
The agreement is needed because Florida’s Turnpike Authority must collect tolls for users on the toll road, according to background materials in the county board’s Feb. 8 agenda packet.
The county opened two lanes of the Ridge Road extension, between Moon Lake Road/Decubellis Road and the Suncoast Parkway on Dec. 31.
“Two interchange ramps were opened, the ramp from Ridge Road to southbound Suncoast Parkway and the off-ramp from northbound Suncoast Parkway onto Ridge Road. The two remaining ramps (the on-ramp from Ridge Road to northbound Suncoast Parkway and the off-ramp from southbound Suncoast Parkway to Ridge Road) remain closed as a result of equipment backorders, which are preventing the completion of the toll sites along these ramps.
“Work is now nearing completion on all ramps between Ridge Road and the Suncoast Parkway. “However, due to supply chain delays, not all of the toll equipment has been delivered for installation,” according to the agenda packet.
“The county has found it to be in the best interest of the public to open the full interchange as soon as possible,” the packet adds.
Negotiations for the agreement are in progress. The provisions of the agreement address the method by which tolls will be estimated for the period of time that the toll equipment and its installation is delayed, which is expected to be two months or longer.
The amount of the tolls to be paid by the county will be based on the Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s traffic counters’ estimates of the number of vehicles that use the ramps during the period when no toll equipment is operational.
The county’s financial obligations are expected to potentially include payment to the turnpike enterprise for one-time costs of traffic counting equipment setup, data processing, and pickup , estimated at about $4,000.
The county also will pay recurring costs of traffic count collection and scheduled maintenance of the equipment, estimated at $1,300 per week, until the tolls are operational.
Additionally, for each vehicle detected by the traffic counters utilizing the ramps while the tolling sites are not operational, the county will pay the turnpike enterprise the blended average toll rate of 33 cents per vehicle.
The total of all of these payments is estimated at $55,000 based on a nine-week period before the tolls will be operational.
However, any delays could require the county board to consider the issue again.
The agreement is subject to review and approval by the county attorney’s office for legal sufficiency.
Published February 23, 20222