Toll lanes could roll onto SR 528 in Brevard County

A planned expansion of a major highway to the Space Coast could bring tolls back to Brevard County.

The Florida Department of Transportation and several partnering road authorities are creating expansion plans for State Road 528, the Beachline Expressway.  The work includes several projects, spanning from the Orlando area to the coast, but one part of the early drafts that’s catching eyes is the inclusion of toll lanes.

Steve Olson with FDOT said the plan expands the road from twp lanes each way to three lanes with new additions being toll lanes. They’d likely function much like the express lanes being built on Interstate 4 right now in which drivers wanting to escape traffic congestion can elect to take the toll lanes and pay for the clearer path.

The idea was met with groans from some visitors to Merritt Island Thursday. One commuter from Orlando said he’s already paying an extra utility bill-worth of tolls each month working in the city, and he doesn’t like the idea of more; optional or not. Another man from the Brevard County area said he moved out to the coast to escape that sort of thing and didn’t think the toll option fit the area.

Olson said it may not even come to pass.

The organizations are still in the first 30 percent of planning the expansion, he said, and they still have to study the traffic, growth projections, and other factors to decide if toll lanes even make sense on the stretch of highway. Olson said by the time the project comes to construction the option could be removed from the plan completely.

Currently there is no clear timeline for the project.