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Florida's Turnpike delivers SunPass express lanes in record time

The first Right: Construction to convert to ORT was fast-tracked by Florida's Turnpike

SunPass-only express lanes on Florida’s Turnpike opened to traffic this week at the Bird Road toll plazas in Miami-Dade County after only 12 weeks of construction.

Work began on 4 September and entailed converting the Bird Road mainline toll plazas into high-tech plazas with open-road tolling (ORT) — no gates, no tollbooths and no need to slowdown for drivers with SunPass.

The newly-converted toll plazas allow motorists with SunPass to travel at highway speeds of 55-60 mph (88-96 kmph) while their toll is collected via SunPass equipment overhead. Cash customers continue to pay at the remaining tollbooths, which are separated from the SunPass-only express lanes by a concrete barrier.

Construction was fast-tracked due to the continuous increase of SunPass participation on the Turnpike. The Bird Road toll plazas are the Turnpike’s busiest, with an average daily traffic of more than 120,000 vehicles. Compared to a traditional SunPass-only lane, each new SunPass ORT lane will process an extra 800-plus vehicles per hour.

Tolls were suspended during the peak-traffic periods while the toll plazas were converted.  This, in conjunction with a comprehensive public information effort, helped minimise impacts on the public.

The US$15.3 million project includes similar work at the Homestead toll plaza and forms part of a larger construction program that also includes the ORT conversion of the Turnpike’s Cypress Creek toll plaza in Broward County and the Lantana toll plaza in Palm Beach County during this coming winter.

November 21, 2007

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