Tolls Remain Suspended On Florida Toll Roads, Including Florida’s Turnpike
Some Service Plazas Reopened In South Florida
Florida Governor Rick Scott toured storm-ravaged cities and counties in Florida this afternoon as the damage assessments following Hurricane Matthew’s visit to the state began in earnest. The governor met by telephone with mayors of dozens of cities this morning and again this afternoon, also paying personal visits to coastal communities, including the town of Cocoa, which is at the eastern terminus of the Beachline Expressway.
Tolls on the Beachline Expressway and all other regional toll roads, as well as Florida’s Turnpike, remain suspended this evening, the governor’s office announced in a statement released early Friday night. Some county tolling facilities may reinstate tolls as early as Saturday as officials examine the potential for putting toll workers back on the road. “All toll suspensions remain in effect and will remain suspended for at least 24 hours,” the statement read. “After the storm passes, county DOT officials will review this on a case by case basis.”
Meanwhile, three service plazas on the Florida’s Turnpike reopened in South Florida earlier in the day Friday, after conditions borne of the monster hurricane had largely passed from the region. Engineering assessments determined none of the buildings had suffered any structural damage that could be potentially harmful or life-threatening. All services plazas from West Palm Beach and south were open Friday night. Service plazas north of West Palm Beach remain closed, including two in the metro Orlando area, the Canoe Creek and Turkey Lake plazas.
As for Hurricane Matthew, itself, the storm has been downgraded to a powerful category 2 system, which is sending strong storm surges and high winds across the very northeastern edge of Florida and across coastal Georgia. The storm is expected to turn east into the Atlantic over the weekend, then turn south once more to head toward the Bahamas for a second time.
The Goethals Bridge between New Jersey and Staten Island will be closing tonight at 10 p.m., the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced. The closure begins Friday night, October 7, at 10 p.m. and continues through Saturday morning, to 8 a.m.
Officials have opened the Bayonne Bridge for the duration of the Columbus Day weekend, and the Outerbridge Crossing, to the south, is an alternate route.
Authorities originally closed the plazas in stages Thursday afternoon. The remaining plazas, all of which are in areas still being whipped by Hurricane Matthew, will be closed until after the storm passes and engineers have determined the buildings are structurally safe.
Hurricane Matthew, Just Offshore, Pulling Energy Over Central Florida
Turnpike Service Plazas Remain Closed At This Hour; Tolls Still Suspended
Hurricane Matthew continues is sea-bound spiral up Florida’s east coast this morning, after narrowly missing South Florida Thursday and Thursday night. The storm remains a category 3 monster, and forecasters expect the system will continue to spin along the coast on a northwesterly trek, before eventually turning overnight and into the weekend to run along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.
The Central Florida Expressway Authority announced on their Twitter feed this morning that the Florida governor’s office had ordered tolls to remain suspended. That order will affect all toll roads in Florida, not just those operated by CFX.
Meanwhile, service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike remain closed this morning as feeder bands of Hurricane Matthew continue to pelt Orlando and Central Florida, areas where people have already endured nearly 24 hours of incessant tropical whiplash. Even as Matthew was over the Bahamas, weather radar showed a steady onslaught of tropical energy flowing from the Atlantic over the central peninsula.
The danger posed by Matthew forced Disney World to close at 5 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The park remains closed today. Sea World, Universal Orlando, and other Orlando tourist destinations, most near or close to Florida’s Turnpike, are also closed. For Disney World, the closure is only the fourth time in its history, according to Mashable, that the theme park has closed. All closures were due to hurricanes, and all have happened since 1999.
Officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation have said they will reopen the service plazas along the turnpike only after Matthew has passed, and only when engineers have verified the structural integrity of any building that have been awash in Matthew’s massive wind field. “All Turnpike Service Plazas will re-open after Matthew passes and all the structures are deemed safe for operation and occupation,” officials said in a written statement.