On Monday state Sen. Jack Latvala released a statement saying drivers would not lose a lane to tolls on the Howard Franklin bridge.
Latvala, R-Clearwater, said his office received a letter from Department of Transportation secretary Jim Boxold. The letter stated that the agency would not move forward with the plans to make one lane on the bridge for tolls.
“My decision is that we will not convert the auxiliary lanes to express lanes,” Boxold said in the letter. “From the perspective of the people we serve in the Tampa region, the auxiliary lanes on this facility are currently travel lanes. Therefore, we will proceed with the Howard Frankland Bridge reconstruction project retaining four untolled (general purpose) lanes in each direction.”
The letter came in response to Latvala’s, who is the chairman of the Pinellas County Legislative Delegation, letter that he had wrote to the FDOT opposing the plan.
“I would like to thank the Department of Transportation for listening to the sentiment of the people of Tampa Bay who opposed having a toll lane on the Howard Frankland Bridge,” Latvala said. “Now we must move forward and focus on solutions to make Tampa Bay transportation easier for our residents.”
The plan was initially to take one lane in each direction and convert them into toll-only lanes, which would then charge commuters up to $6 each way.
Drivers can now take a sigh of relief knowing the plan is dead in the water. The plan to add tolls to the Howard Franklin was to improve traffic flow. Commuters were already frustrated with sitting in daily traffic on the bridge and feared a toll lane would just slow traffic even more.
However, tolls may not be the right answer, but what is? Read Are Tolls Really The Answer For The Howard Franklin to see why the FDOT was thinking tolls would improve traffic flow.
Quotes from 10 News.