ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. (FOX 35 ORLANDO) - After years of talking about it, construction is finally underway in Central Florida for what will eventually be a cashless turnpike.
Ah toll booths. You speed up. You slow down. Maybe you wait in line, pay the toll and then after all that, you still have to merge. But on a big section of the Florida Turnpike, that’s about to change.
“They just won't have to slow down. They won't have to pay or slow down and go through the Sunpass areas and then merge back in,” said Florida Turnpike spokesperson Katie Mitzner.
Seventy miles of the turnpike from Osceola to Sumter Counties are going electronic. The more than $17 million conversion started just a few weeks ago. There are no signs of it yet except for some crash barriers.
But soon, bye-bye booths. Catch you later, cash and coins. Everything will look like express lanes. Drivers can pay with SunPass or Toll-by-Plate. Some call it a huge relief.
“That exit to Stoneybrook Parkway, right there it's terrible, so if they can eliminate the tolls, would make everyone’s life a little bit easier,” said Tommy Wright, of Orlando.
“I see people trying to negotiate the lanes especially with the changes that happen nightly, they can't figure out what they're doing,” said Joseph Daniels, of Davenport.
That’s why Turnpike officials hope the change will mean fewer crashes.
“We've actually seen in other areas of the state where we have made this conversion a 70 percent decrease in accidents,” said Mitzner.
They’re also hoping for an even bigger decrease in headaches once these booths are no longer taking such a toll.
The Turnpike also operates portions of state roads 528, 417 and 429. Those are not being converted right now, but they are being studied.
The 70-mile conversion should be complete by Summer 2020.