NORTH KEY LARGO, FL – Construction of a new electronic toll at the Card Sound Bridge in North Key Largo will begin Aug. 1, with a scheduled completion date of Feb. 8, 2018. No tolls will be collected during this time.
The last hand-collected tolls will take place July 31. At that point, unused discount tickets can be returned for a refund.
The construction phase of the project will start with the demolition of the old tollbooth and related buildings. Florida Power & Light will relocate utilities and work will be done on the roadway. Some lane closures will take place, and those closures will be publicized when the schedule is known.
During the design-build phase, County staff worked with its contractor, Halley Engineering Contractors Inc., to include elements that should limit the speed that vehicles can travel through the new electronic tolls that are near the popular Alabama Jacks restaurant and bar.
“The speed limit through that section now is 45 mph, but we knew that the current toll booth forced cars to slow down and come to a stop,” said Judy Clarke, Monroe County’s Director of Engineering Services and Roads. “So during the conceptual design stage, we discussed what could be done and added a number of speed-reducing elements into the project.”
These elements include:
1. Keeping the lane width at the minimum 11 feet in lieu of 12 feet.
2. Adding a 7-foot-wide median at the toll site, pavement markings, plastic delineators and striping on the shoulders (called the narrow bridge treatment) to create a more narrow roadway effect that results in slower speeds.
3. Installing solar, flashing beacon speed signs that show how fast you are going.
4. Installing raised rumble strips that raise awareness for vehicles.
5. Reducing the speed limit approaching the toll from the current 45 mph to 35 mph – and installing appropriate signage.
For decades, the toll at the Card Sound Bridge has remained at $1 per two-axel vehicle, plus 50 cents for each additional axel. The cost of the new toll will go before the Monroe County Board of County Commissioners for discussion and approval in the fall. There will continue to be discount programs, likely in the form of an annual pass and a monthly rebate program.
The design build contract is $1.79 million. Engineering consultants Keith & Schnars will review the design with County staff and oversee construction.
Transcore is installing the Sunpass electronic tolling system that includes camera readers, wiring and computer hardware. That contract is $834,800, although about $166,000 is for contingencies that may not be needed. The entire project is paid for using the Card Sound Toll Fund.