Miami’s rapid expansion has lead to a parallel boom in the construction or expansion of the increasingly congested highway system. Ostensibly, the Miami-Dade Expressway Authority (MDX) obtains revenue to maintain its heavily-utilized roadways through tolls, lacking any federal, state, or local tax funding. But locals are nonetheless fed up with the rising costs of their daily commute.
Back in November, a Doral resident who commutes to Coral Gables – and thus pays about $50 a month in tolls – launched a petition to air his grievances at MDX. With a new toll system launching at the Dolphin and Airport expressways, many east-west commuters will see an effective doubling of their tolls. Seven months later, what was expected to be a minor show of resistance has instead garnered more than 12,000 signatures – enough to be delivered to Mayor Carlos Gimenez.
Before the change, the roundtrip fee from NW 87th Avenue Downtown Miami was $1. Now it is $3.20, an increase of more than 300 percent. Aside from petitioners, grassroots groups are demanding more transparency and scrutiny of the MDX system; for their part, the expressway authority has variously told people to stop complaining, to consider signing up for their discount program, and to rest assured that the collected funds are being used for local purposes.
Since MDX took over the Dolphin (State Road 836), Airport (SR 112), Don Shula (SR 874), and Snapper Creek (SR 878) expressways in 1996, the system has been repaved, improved, and given more lane miles and new entrance and exit systems. Construction is a perennial endeavor as population growth puts more pressure on infrastructure. Given the continued needs for funds to support this growth, one can expect the controversy around tolls to continue.
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