At Tuesday's public meeting with the Lee County Department of Transportation, the community finally heard the specifics involved with the plan to alter the LeeWay toll discount program.
Some of the things we learned about their proposal:
The current toll discount program would be eliminated
Cash tolls at all three county bridges would remain the same - $6 at the causeway and $2 at both the Cape Coral and Midpoint bridges
The proposed plan would lower Cape Coral crossings to $1.32 per trip
The proposed plan would raise the causeway toll to $3 per trip
A $400 yearly cap would be applied at the Sanibel bridge only
As far as the latter detail is concerned, it seems the county has come up with a workable solution for folks who come onto Sanibel on a daily basis. Look at it this way - currently, people enrolled in the LeeWay toll discount program (which now costs $67 annually to enroll in) are paying $2 each day to drive onto the island. Based upon a five-crossings-per-week schedule, that's $520 in toll payments per year.
Those people would pay only $400 per year because of the cap plan. At $3 per crossing, drivers under the new plan would reach the cap plateau somewhere around the 27th week of the year. From that point on, they would not be charged to cross the causeway.
However, for locals who have two cars enrolled in the LeeWay toll discount system, they will wind up paying $200 more per year. Under the current multiple-vehicle plan, they pay just $600 annually for unlimited trips. During Tuesday's meeting, a large majority of the 350 or so people in attendance raised their hands when asked if they were enrolled in the multi-car discount plan.
We think that the cap idea is a good one, but far too many islanders would be negatively effected should that program be put into place.
We also know that the DOT would like to make a formal presentation at the Board of County Commissioner's Aug. 11 meeting, but we think that this is a major wrinkle in their proposal that needs to be ironed out. And if making any significant change - or changes - to the plan takes them beyond that date, so be it. There's no rush in making alterations to the toll structure, so they shouldn't be hasty in formulating a plan that's good for all of Lee County.
Sanibel and Captiva included.
- Reporter editorial