Volume 48, Number 1 - August 16, 2010

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Monique Madan
Monique Madan

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Changes to Sunpass procedure

By Monique Madan

Most toll roads will soon take the cashless route.

With three major highways having eliminated tollbooths, Miami- Dade Expressway Authority officials are busy trying to get the word out. Representatives from MDX will be handing out free SunPass Minis at Miami Dade College’s North and Kendall Campuses until Aug. 27.

“We want to make this transition as easy as possible for all the students,” said Cindy Polo- Serantes, MDX communications manager. “We want to make it accessible for those who haven’t been informed.”

The new system is called Open Road Tolling. The MDX operates five major highways. The three roads that have already converted to ORT are the SR 924/Gratigny Parkway, Don Shula Expressway, and Snapper Creek.

“Open Road Tolling has shown us that it speeds up traffic, making it a lot faster to get to where you need to be,” said Diandra Lama, an MDX representative.

You need a driver’s license, tag number and debit card to receive your free SunPass, but you need to pay a $10 activation fee. The SunPass can be refilled online with a credit or debit card.

Representatives from the MDX will be available at the North Campus— on the first floor of building one— to answer questions on Wednesdays from 7-11 a.m. and 2-7 p.m. through Aug. 27.

About 600 MDC students have already activated their SunPass Minis. They are applauding the system.

“The SunPass allows me to just go,” said Josue Flanquin, 19, biology major. “It saves me a lot of time.”

Officials from the MDX said another caveat of the ORT is that it enhances safety because there will be no halting or merging of traffic at tollbooths, something, they say, that led to many accidents in the past.

Instead, when a vehicle passes under a gantry—an overhead structure that spans the roadway—the distance traveled will automatically be deducted from the account.

If one drives through a gantry without a SunPass, they will pay by the option of toll-by-plate. A picture of their tag will be taken and a bill will be received in the mail for the amount of the toll, plus an additional $3 processing fee at the end of the month.

Exact amounts vary by expressway. Users will pay for the portion of the roadway they drive. For instance, Gratigny drivers using only half the roadway will pay 50 cents, while those choosing to use the entire stretch will pay $1.

“Not only is it less expensive, but the system creates improved fuel efficiency and reduces carbon monoxide and other emissions,” Serantes said.

According to MDX, in one year of using ORT, 1.5 metric tons of gas emissions will be saved as well as $150, 000 that used to be spent for maintenance yearly, per toll booth.

In total, toll roads cost $65 million a year. With the new cashless system, only one fifteenth of that amount will be spent.

In 2012, the Dolphin Expressway/SR 836, and Airport Expressway/SR 112 will also go cashless.

Out of the one million daily roadway users that use these five major highways 85 percent are SunPass customers, according to Polo-Serantes.

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