Commuters welcome new express lanes on SR 528

Some new express lanes have opened on State Road 528 (Beachline Expressway), just in time for holiday travel.  It's a welcome sight for commuters.

"The Beachline Expressway has gone from a four lane toll road to eight lanes. There will be two expressways in each direction and then an auxiliary lane in each direction," said Florida's Turnpike spokesperson Katie Mitzner.

She said the auxiliary lanes are for people who plan to get to a nearby exit to access local roads, while express lanes are for drivers traveling longer distances.

"With express lanes, those are for motorists who want to stay in those lanes, continue on.  They don't have to deal with trucks and can continue on in those lanes until they get to their next destination."

The additional lanes between Interstate 4 to the turnpike will help free up traffic congestion. Officials said the speed limit has also been increased to 65 miles (105 km) per hour. 

The Florida Department of Transportation said 94,000 drivers take the Beachline each day.

"At this time it costs the same amount to drive in the express lanes, as it does to drive on the Beachline."

Officials said it will eventually cost more to use the express lanes; however, the timeframe is unclear.

"A couple of those factors include construction on Florida's Turnpike and the construction on I-4. When we move into the next phase here there could be additional barriers put in place." 

The next phase of construction from the turnpike to McCoy Road will be finished by the end of the year.