FDOT to modify Palmetto express lanes in effort to reduce congestion

MIAMI LAKES, FLA. (WSVN) - The Florida Department of Transportation is taking feedback from lawmakers on the Palmetto Highway express lanes to see how it can be changed to reduce congestion.

In a press release, FDOT said it “identified significant solutions to meet the congestion needs on the Palmetto Expressway.”

“Our residents are on average in traffic, in peak hour traffic, about a week out of the entire year,” State Rep. Bryan Avila, R-Miami Springs, said. “Traffic, right now, in terms of congestion, is costing our county about $4 billion in economic activity every year.”

Among those solutions are the addition of a general-purpose southbound lane, reducing northbound express lanes from two to one and adding an express lane entrance at Northwest 122nd Street. However, when the changes will be implemented has not been announced.

“The modifications we are implementing on the Palmetto Expressway will address the concerns that have been expressed by Gov. [Ron] DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nunez, legislative leaders and the traveling public,” FDOT Secretary Kevin J. Thibault said.

FDOT will also be reducing the minimum toll rate from $0.50 to $0.00, possibly for at least a year, the Miami Herald reported.

The traffic concern is enough that some lawmakers have proposed legislation to ban express lanes on the Palmetto.

“We felt such an urgent need that we needed to address the situation,” State Sen. Manny Díaz, R-Hialeah, said. “It’s going to have some pain involved in it, because any time you change these things, that does occur.”

Victor Garcia takes the expressway daily to drive between Kendall and Aventura. He said his commute has more than doubled since the express lanes opened last fall.

“The traffic is absurd,” he said. “It used to take me like 40 minutes. Now, it takes me like two hours.”

However, commuter Manny Tapia said he does not have a complaint of the highway’s express lanes.

“I like to use the express lane a lot, especially in rush hour,” he said.

Officials are working on a timeline for these actions.

Copyright 2020 Sunbeam Television Corp. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.