Category Archives: CFX Toll Roads

Toll roads under the auspices of the Central Florida Expressway Authority, which operates toll roads in the Orlando Metro area.

‘Catastrophic’ Hurricane Irma Threatens Florida East Coast

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 11:26 p.m., Wednesday, September 6, in order to reflect the latest forecast and evacuation data.

Mandatory Evacuations Ordered For Coastal Residents

Hurricane Irma forecast track.

The projected track of Hurricane Irma, as issued by the National Hurricane Center at 11 p.m. Wednesday. Graphic: NOAA.

Fort Lauderdale, FL – Hurricane Irma now threatens the Florida east coast, according to the National Hurricane Center, and forecasters announced they would likely begin issuing hurricane watches for the Florida peninsula on Thursday. The system will impact South Florida, and  Florida’s Turnpike, by as early as Friday evening, and to forecasters say the massive category 5 storm could inflict ‘catastrophic’ wind and rain damage to affected areas into early next week.

The storm moved over the eastern Leeward Islands overnight Wednesday morning, making landfall on the British Virgin Islands, and dealing a blow to Puerto Rico, shortly thereafter. The storm is expected to continue to barrel its way on a west-northwesterly trek through the Caribbean through the next two to three days.

Hurricane Irma's projected wind field

The forecast wind field impact timeline for Hurricane Irma, through Sunday. Whether the storm remains off shore or strikes the peninsula, it will have a significant impact on South Florida, forecasters say. Graphic: NOAA.

The problem for Florida comes this weekend, and particularly Sunday evening into Monday morning, when the storm is expected to slip to the west of a high pressure ridge, allowing Irma to turn to the north. Forecasters do not have a firm handle on precisely where the turn will happen. If Irma turns sooner, rather than later, the eye wall would remain offshore of Florida’s peninsula. However, the massive storm, which has winds extending out 175 miles from its center, is expected to impact Florida’s east coast, whether off shore or not. That means regardless of whether the storm makes landfall, its impact will be unavoidable.

Evacuations Ordered For Florida Keys And Florida Peninsula

That forecast, and the storm’s potential for a life-threatening impact, have forced officials across South Florida to issue mandatory evacuation orders. Visitors in the Florida Keys were ordered to evacuate beginning Wednesday morning, and residents went under a mandatory evacuation Wednesday night.

Residents of low-lying and flood-prone areas of Broward County, which includes areas of Pompano Beach and Fort Lauderdale’s beaches, also are under a mandatory evacuation order beginning Thursday. Miami-Dade County issued evacuation orders later on Wednesday for much of its barrier islands, which includes Miami Beach.

Tolls Suspended On Florida Roads As Evacuation Traffic Builds

Meanwhile, tolls were suspended Tuesday afternoon for all Florida toll roads and bridges. Governor Rick Scott issued the order around 3:30 p.m., saying the move was necessary to help residents and visitors easily evacuate if necessary.

The Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike, which runs through Miami-Dade County, was already showing heavy traffic at its south end, in Florida City and Homestead, where residents and visitors fleeing the Florida Keys will connect with the roadway to evacuate.

Chad Huff, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation, said officials had not made a decision to change the traffic pattern on the turnpike, although that contingency does exist to aid evacuation. However, he could offer no timeline on when any decision to change the traffic flow would be made.

Hurricane Irma Forces Florida Evacuations

Tolls Suspended Across Florida’s Turnpike, Other Toll Roads

Fort Lauderdale – Tolls on Florida’s Turnpike, and all toll roads in the Sunshine State, have been suspended as Hurricane Irma makes its approach through the Caribbean. Governor Rick Scott made the announcement mid-afternoon Tuesday, saying the suspension of tolls will make it easier for Floridians and visitors to “more easily be able to prepare for any potential storm impacts … and quickly and safely evacuate when necessary.”

Pompano Service Plaza gas station

Workers at service plaza gas stations in South Florida, including the Shell at the Pompano Beach Plaza, pictured here in a 2016 file photo, reported plenty of fuel available, with no expected interruption in the delivery of new supplies.

Hurricane Irma has blown up into a super hurricane, with winds of 185 miles per hour, according to the National Hurricane Center in MIami. That makes Irma the second-most powerful storm in history, only behind Hurricane Allen, which struck the Caribbean in 1980. At one point, Allen had winds of 190 miles per hour.

Hurricane Irma forecast track

Hurricane Irma’s forecast track, from the National Hurricane Center, issued at 5 p.m. on September 5.

For its part, Hurricane Irma is due to strike the northern Leeward Islands, east of Puerto Rico, tonight, and Puerto Rico, itself, on Wednesday. South Florida and the Florida Keys are currently in the forecast “cone”, or the projected path of the storm, which includes a margin of error. But Key West currently has a target on it, as the NHC forecast takes the storm’s path nearly directly over the island by Sunday.

Evacuation Orders Planned Wednesday In South Florida

That forecast track has forced officials set planned mandatory evacuations of the Keys beginning on Wednesday for visitors and residents, although the precise time of Wednesday’s expected evacuation order had not been determined.

Government offices in Miami-Dade County, along with schools, will be closed on Thursday and Friday so residents may prepare for the storm or evacuate. All school and park activities were also suspended. However, county officials had not yet issued any evacuation orders.

In Broward County and Fort Lauderdale, location of the home office of TurnpikeInfo.com, government emergency operations centers were activated, but no evacuation orders had yet been issued as of Tuesday evening.

Elsewhere, traffic on Florida’s Turnpike appeared light in most areas, and gas stations at service plazas in South Florida reported fuel available at both the Snapper Creek Service Plaza in Miami-Dade and the Pompano Beach Service Plaza in Broward County.

“Monumental” Interchange Project Moves Forward As First New Ramp Opens

New Innovation Way Interchange Replacing Monument Parkway Junction East Of Orlando

New onramp for Beachline Expressway in Florida

The Beachline Expressway begins getting a replacement interchange this weekend as authorities open the first ramp of the new Innovation Parkway junction.

The first ramp of a revised interchange system on Florida’s Beachline Expressway will open Friday, March 31, the Central Florida Expressway Authority has announced. The new ramp will route traffic directly from the southbound lanes of Innovation Way to the westbound lanes of the State Road 528, which is the Beachline.

“Motorists traveling south on Innovation Way will be able to access the new ramp directly instead of following the existing configuration through Monument Parkway,” officials announced in a written release. Authorities said the old southbound ramp, from Monument Parkway, will close as the new ramp opens this weekend. Monument Parkway becomes International Corporate Park Boulevard south of the Beachline Expressway.

The Innovation Way interchange, about nine miles east of Orlando International Airport, will replace the Monument Parkway/ICP interchange completely by early 2018. The interchange is being updated to accommodate new development in the area, which includes a new intrastate commuter rail system, All Aboard Florida.

Detour signs will be available to guide drivers on Monument Parkway, officials said. “Motorists traveling on Monument Parkway and ICP Boulevard will be directed to head north to Innovation Way to access the new ramp,” officials wrote.

Service Plazas Opened On Florida’s Turnpike

Gas Stations Operational And Food Available

Tolls Remain Suspended Until At Least 11:59 p.m. Sunday, October 9

The service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike are all operational in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, according to a staff member at the Turkey Lake service plaza. The plazas had been closed as the storm roiled offshore Thursday and Friday, sending wave upon wave of feeder bands across the peninusla. The Florida Department of Transportation, under orders from the governor’s office, had closed all plazas in order to protect staff.

The plazas began reopening in South Florida Friday afternoon, and all are now operational, with the threat of Matthew now passed.

Meanwhile, tolls remain suspended across Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll facilities, including Orlando’s toll roads and those in Tampa, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. While the free ride may be saving money, traffic congestion is occasionally up at some toll plazas, where officials are directing traffic into just a few lanes. The governor’s office released a statement late Sunday afternoon stating tolls would remain suspended until at least 11:59 p.m. Sunday, October 9. However, regional tolling agencies were reviewing their toll status on a county by county basis.

Leesburg Toll Plaza

A southbound view of the Leesburg toll plaza on October 9, 2016, as drivers are pushed to the left-most lanes to accommodate toll suspensions. It was unclear Sunday when tolls would be reinstated on the Florida’s Turnpike. Image from Florida Department of Transportation.

Elsewhere, officials will be examining constructions sites in the coming days on Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll roads to determine whether it is safe to resume maintenance and new construction operations. When that process is complete, construction restrictions will resume.

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:50 p.m. to include the governor’s office’s latest statement on the status of tolls on Florida’s Turnpike.

Tolls Remain Suspended On Florida’s Turnpike

Governor Surveys Damage From Hurricane Matthew

No Statement Issued About Service Plazas Reopening As Gas Supplies Disrupted

Governor Rick Scott presser in Volusia County

Governor Rick Scott briefs media this morning in Volusia County.

Tolls remain suspended this afternoon on Florida’s Turnpike and other regional toll roads, including those in metropolitan Orlando, Tampa, Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The service plazas on the turnpike remain closed in the most heavily-damaged areas, with only South Florida’s service plazas operational late Saturday afternoon.

As Hurricane Matthew weakens off the coast of the Carolinas, it remains unclear how quickly service plazas will reopen. This could be trouble for drivers who normally depend upon the fuel and other services provided at plazas. Fuel supplies at retail locations at various exits are likely to suffer some, as ports across the northeastern coast have been shut down due to Matthew.

The governor’s office, in its regular written afternoon briefing, said those ports are beginning to reopen. The governor’s office also assured residents and tourists officials were closely monitoring supply chain and distribution channels. “The state is monitoring for supply, distribution or retail fuel shortages or issues, specifically for isolated incidents of individual retailers experiencing temporary fuel shortages,” the governor’s press office wrote. “These individual retailers are being quickly refueled, and fuel is readily available across Florida.”

Officials at the Florida Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to requests for further information about the service plazas or tolling.

 

Florida Governor Tours Cities Ravaged By Matthew

Tolls Remain Suspended On Florida Toll Roads, Including Florida’s Turnpike

Some Service Plazas Reopened In South Florida

Florida Governor Rick Scott tours Cocoa after Hurricane Matthew

Florida Governor Rick Scott is accompanied by local and state law enforcement and national guard troops as he tours Cocoa, one of the towns impacted by Hurricane Matthew’s tango with Florida’s east coast.

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.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track 2016-10-07 8PM EDT

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.

Florida’s Turnpike, Orlando Still Whipped By Hurricane Feeder Bands

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.

NWS Weather Radar Melbourne - Hurricane Matthew 2016-10-17

Weather radar on the National Weather Service website shows lingering feeder bands of Hurricane Matthew continuing to influence Florida’s Turnpike weather, even as the storm has remained offshore.

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.

CFX, which operates regional toll roads around Orlando's metropolitan area, announced on their twitter feed that the Florida governor's office had ordered tolls remain suspended on toll roads, which includes Florida's Turnpike.

CFX, which operates regional toll roads around Orlando’s metropolitan area, announced on their twitter feed that the Florida governor’s office had ordered tolls remain suspended on toll roads, which includes Florida’s Turnpike.

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.

Florida’s Turnpike Buffeted By Outer Bands Of Hurricane Matthew

Category 4 Storm Clearing Bahamas And Speeding Toward U.S. Coast

Hurricane Warnings Extend North From Broward County Into Southern Georgia

The outer feeder bands of Hurricane Matthew have already begin whipping around drivers on Florida’s Turnpike in South Florida, particularly Miami-Dade County and Broward County, the first to begin feeling the impact of the storm. For those still driving Florida’s Turnpike this morning, officials have urged caution on the roads.

Hurricane Matthew wind field 2016-10-06 8AM

The enormous wind field of Hurricane Matthew will send high tropical storm-force winds and some hurricane force-winds across many portions of Florida’s Turnpike, up and down the peninsula, and other toll roads in Central Florida.

The Florida Highway Patrol was reporting heavy congestion on State Road 60 in Indian River County, where traffic is heading westbound toward Florida’s Turnpike in an effort to outrun the storm. Matthew is expected to graze the coastline along the Treasure Coast and Space Coast of Florida, even as its immense wind field influences most of the eastern peninsula and into the Florida Keys.

Tolls were suspended on most portions of Florida’s Turnpike and most of Central Florida’s toll roads Tuesday night, as officials prepared for evacuations from communities across a broad swath of the Florida’s east coast, particularly from Palm Beach County northward. The FHP reported all service plazas remained open, and customers were being permitted to fill up a five-gallon (19 liter) container of fuel, in addition to a vehicle fill-up.

High winds, which are already gusting across South Florida, are expected to get significantly worse through the early and mid-afternoon hours, reaching high tropical storm-force early Thursday evening. Some areas are expected to get hurricane force gusts, and sustained hurricane force winds are expected to impact northern segments of Florida’s Turnpike and, in particular, the east leg of the Beachline Expressway.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track 2016-10-06 11AM

Hurricane Matthew’s 11 a.m. forecast track from the National Hurricane Center in Miami.

As of 11 a.m., hurricane warnings were extended farther north, well into South Carolina, and the storm, itself, had gained strength and reclaimed its status as a category 4 hurricane. However, the storm is more compact than it had been, even as it has regained strength. Hurricane-force winds extend outward about 60 miles from the center, but tropical storm -force winds only extend outward about 160 miles, a contraction of about 15 miles from the previous advisory. Maximum sustained winds are at 140 miles per hour, with higher gusts.

Editor’s note: Some supplemental information has been added to this report since it was first published. Information about the service plazas was added at 12:20 p.m. EDT.

 

Tolls Suspended On Most Florida Toll Roads Due To Hurricane Matthew

Category 3 Storm Continues Pushing Through Bahamas, Aiming For Florida Coastline

Tolls have been suspended on nearly all of Florida’s toll roads and the mainline of Florida’s Turnpike due to the approach of Hurricane Matthew. Chad Huff, spokesman for the Florida Department of Transportation, announced the toll suspensions late this afternoon in a written release. The suspensions take effect at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and will remain in effect for the duration of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track 2016-10-05 5PM EDT

The latest forecast track for Hurricane Matthew puts just offshore of Florida’s coast by late Thursday and early Friday, but the wind fields extend outward for some 175 miles from the center, according to forecasters.

The suspensions will be in effect for the following roadways:

Huff warned drivers to follow road signs and pay attention to message signs on the roadways. Specifically, he stated there would be directional signs posted at toll plazas, warning drivers to use extra care, as the plazas will be unmanned. “[Drivers] are advised to obey directional signs posted in advance of toll plazas and exercise caution when approaching the plaza structure.”

The National Hurricane Center’s 5 p.m. hurricane advisory shows the track of Matthew has jogged back to the west, putting the storm just offshore of Stuart by Friday morning. With the windfield on Hurricane Matthew extending outward about 175 miles from the center, even an offshore storm is likely to cause extreme high winds on approach, making travel hazardous beginning around midday Thursday, according to forecasters.

Tolls will remain suspended until after the storm passes and officials have assessed damage on the roadways, Huff said.

 

Florida’s Turnpike Remains Open; High Winds And Gusts Still Expected

Hurricane Matthew’s Track Toward Florida Moves Farther Offshore

Storm Could Still Wobble Closer To Coastline

The majority of Florida’s east coast remains under a hurricane warning this afternoon, this as Hurricane Matthew continues its trek into the Bahamas, and eventually into the Gulf Stream near Florida. The National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast track has pushed the cone slightly to the east, which could bode well for drivers on Florida’s Turnpike, particularly in South Florida. The storm’s closest approach is expected late Thursday into Friday morning.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track 2016-10-05 11 EDT

Hurricane Matthew’s updated track puts the storm’s closest approach to Florida farther to the north, mitigating danger to drivers on Florida’s Turnpike. However, the storm still has plenty of time to shift direction once more.

The storm system has prompted emergency operations offices to open across the state, and many government offices and schools, particularly in communities along the eastern shore, will be shuttered Thursday and Friday. The Florida Department of Transportation has been holding emergency meetings with various state officials, including discussions with Governor Rick Scott and federal authorities. 

However, with the latest track pushing Hurricane Matthew to the east, FDOT will leave Florida’s Turnpike operating as usual, but with additional roadway patrols. There were “no toll suspensions as of yet,” said Chad Huff, an FDOT spokesman, via email. “All Turnpike service plazas are operating normally with food and fuel.”

Whether there is a decision to suspend tolls will depend greatly on whether Hurricane Matthew either strengthens or turns west into the peninsula. The current track still has the system coming perilously close to shore, but farther north than the early morning track, pushing many of the toll roads in Florida out of the most dangerous parts of the storm.

Hurricane Matthew wind field forecast 2016-10-05 8 EDT

The wind field projections for areas likely to be impacted by Hurricane Matthew. Even on its current track, the storm will likely stream tropical storm-force winds and higher gusts.

However, the NHC wind field forecast still puts much of Florida’s Turnpike under the lash of tropical-storm force winds. The likelihood of tropical storm-force winds hitting portions of Florida’s Turnpike remains above 70%, and as high as 90% along the Treasure Coast, which includes the communities of Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Stuart.

The NHC’s next full forecast is due to be released at 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time.