The free ride on a portion of the First Coast Expressway comes to end Saturday.
That’s when the Florida Department of Transportation will be turning on its SunPass tolling system.
“There are two segments on the north end that are 20 cents each with a SunPass and 45 cents each with toll-by-plate. And then the three southern segments are 60 cents each with a SunPass and 85 cents each with toll-by-plate,” said FDOT spokesman Sara Pleasants.
The First Coast Expressway currently runs from U.S. 90/Interstate 10 in Duval County to Blanding Boulevard in Clay County.
The tolled portion of the roadway begins south of New World Avenue and currently ends at Blanding Boulevard until construction of the next segment of roadway is completed. No tolls will be collected on the First Coast Expressway between U.S. 90 and New World Avenue, according to FDOT.
Construction began this spring on the second phase of the First Coast Expressway from Blanding Boulevard to east of County Road 209 in Clay County. Work on the final phase, which includes a new bridge over the St. Johns River and a connection to I-95 in St. Johns County, is expected to begin by 2023.
When construction is finished it will span 46 miles across parts of Duval, Clay and St. Johns counties.
This is the second toll road to open on the First Coast this year.
In May, FDOT rolled out new express lanes across part of I-295 between the Buckman Bridge and I-95. But unlike I-295, which still has free lanes, tolls are unavoidable on the tolled portion of the First Coast Expressway, which is also known as State Road 23.
The expansion of First Coast area toll roads comes as the state deals with problems with its SunPass system in some other parts of the state.
Florida's seeking new bids in three years instead of renewing its contract with the company that oversaw last year’s botched SunPass conversion, as the Tampa Bay Times reported. Florida transportation officials on Wednesday confirmed their plans to re-bid the second half of the contract with New Jersey-based Conduent State & Local Solution.
The Times had previously outlined problems involving SunPass at Florida airports, such as late reimbursements for parking fees. In March, the state agency imposed a $4.6 million fine on Conduent and announced internal changes to how the state’s toll-collection system is managed.
At the time, fines against the company had already reached $780,000, which included failing to meet an initial deadline to implement upgrades to the system. Conduent's three-year contract is worth $343 million.
The SunPass system conversion was supposed to last about a week and be completed last June.
Instead, the system was overwhelmed by the volume as it went live, and parts of the system were down for a month, with serious issues lingering into August involving overcharges, poor website performance and unacceptable wait time at a customer call center.