Traffic determines toll prices on I-95 Express

Rush hour may mean more than high traffic. It may also mean high toll fees.

Drivers using the I-95 Express lane can expect to pay 25 cents and more depending on how many drivers are on the road.

I-95 Express is a part of “Dynamic Tolling,” a computer-controlled system that determines toll prices by how fast vehicles are going and how close they are together.

Brian Rick, Florida Department of Transportation spokesman for the Miami region, said the express lanes are a demand-based system that manages traffic.

“The intent of the express lanes is to better manage the traffic on the roads. It separates the local motorists from the long-distance motorists and gives drivers a choice,” said Rick.

If the tolls were only 25 cents, every driver would use the express lanes, defeating the purpose of regulating them, he said. The objective is to keep cars moving at a reliable speed by raising the price of the toll.

“Prices will definitely affect the usage of the express lane. If it costs just as much to order a meal as it does to pass through one of these lanes, then people will think twice to use it,” said Bryan Saenz, freshman biology major. “With how the economy is, people will do anything to save a couple dollars any way possible.”

However, Rick doesn’t think managed tolling will deter motorists from driving on the express lanes because the toll price fluctuates. There are highs and lows, he said. I-95 Express hit critical mass for the Patriots vs. Dolphins game resulting in a record high toll of $7.10.

“The toll prices won’t deter people who need to get to their destination quicker. Time is money. If you’re on the highway sitting in traffic, it’s burning a hole in your wallet causing you to spend more money than if you were paying the tolls on the express lanes,” said Rick.

Joanne Pol, assistant professor in the division of humanities, said she did not know I-95 Express used dynamic tolling.

“I’ve only seen it at 25 or 75 cents when I’ve gone through it, which is pretty regularly. On Friday, I drive in rush hour and it hasn’t been too high. If the toll was 10 dollars that would be too much,” she said.

The long-term goals of I-95 Express are to free up the local lanes by taking motorists off the road through express buses or carpooling. If drivers carpool with the South Florida commuter service, they can ride in the express lanes for free. If four people carpool together, three vehicles will be pulled off the road causing less congestion and reducing the amount of emission.

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