Public opposition kills Bayway toll increase

03/20/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Monday

There will not be higher tolls on the Pinellas Bayway this year.

According to state lawmakers, a proposal that would have raised the cost of going to Fort De Soto Park from 35 cents to $2.50, and raise the toll to St. Pete Beach to $1.25 from its current 50-cent charge is now off the table.

Public pressure led to the plans collapse. Last week, more than 400 people showed up at a town hall meeting at the St Pete Beach Community Center.

Travis Jarman, co-chair of the Citizens Bayway Task Force, said he was thrilled that state legislators listened to the community.

Pinellas County Commissioners say they’ll still need to find alternative sources of funding to replace the two aging drawbridges.

New Port Richey Sen. Mike Fasano, chairman of the Transportation and Economic Development Appropriations, told the St. Petersburg Times that "residents have to understand they’re going to have to pay for the bridges, maybe not in total, but in some way.”

Toll rates on the Bayway have not increased since 1986.

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