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New bill would remove express lanes from Palmetto Expressway, ban tolls on highway


New legislation would remove tolled express lanes from the Palmetto Expressway and ban the state from creating any new tolls on the highway.

A pair of Miami lawmakers, state Rep. Bryan Avila and Sen. Manny Díaz Jr., will introduce their matching bills on Monday.

The bills come about three months after the express lanes debuted on southbound lanes of the Palmetto, also known as State Road 826. Northbound lanes received new express lanes in September. Toll pricing depends on traffic patterns.

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Avila, who represents parts of Miami and Hialeah, called the express lanes “disastrous for our community.” Instead of easing gridlock, the project has backfired so far, critics say.

“Our residents have experienced more congestion than ever and significant delays in their daily commutes,” Avila said in a statement. “Our community deserves transportation solutions, not more obstacles.”

His legislation aims to convert the express lanes on the Palmetto to general purpose lanes and remove the tolls. If passed, it would take effect July 1, 2020. The legislative session starts Jan. 14, but bills are being heard in committee now.

In a statement, Diaz said the express lanes project “did not take into account population growth or the economic development of the area.”

“This is an issue that is affecting our residents daily; therefore, we are moving forward with a bill to address the issue and provide relief to an area that is growing exponentially,” he said.

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