Category Archives: Florida’s Turnpike

News about Florida’s Turnpike and Toll Roads

‘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.

Florida’s Turnpike Opens New Interchange

Minneola And Clermont Gain New Access To Sunshine State Parkway

A new interchange is slated to open June 10 on the northern leg of Florida’s Turnpike near mile 278, officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation have announced. The new “Minneola Interchange” is already a common site for regular drivers of the turnpike, as lane closures and adjustments have been made over the past year to accommodate construction of the new ramps. The exit number will be 278.

Minneola Interchange, looking west on Hancock Road

An aerial view of the Minneola Interchange on Florida’s Turnpike, taken in March 2017, looking west over the turnpike along Hancock Road. Photo: Florida DOT.

The interchange will be an all-electronic one, which is to say no cash will be accepted at the tolls, which will be collected only on the southbound entrance and northbound exit ramps. Florida’s Turnpike is in the process of converting to an all-electronic system, but completion is still several years away.

The junction will give nearly direct access to the town of Minneola, which sits just west of the turnpike, and north of Clermont, a western suburb of Orlando. Drivers exiting the turnpike will find themselves on Hancock Road in Minneola, with access to Hancock Road, which is being completed to connect towns on the north and east of the turnpike, on the west shore of Lake Apopka, to those on the south and west, including Minneola and Clermont.

The opening of the interchange will be heralded locally with a community celebration by the city of Minneola, as well as a 5K run to honor Christa Deason, and FDOT employee city officials say was instrumental in bringing the interchange project to fruition. Following the run, the ribbon-cutton for the new interchange is expected to happen around 9:30 a.m., at which time the ramps will be opened for traffic.

A satellite view of the new Minneola Interchange, from Google Earth, taken on March 17, 2017, shows the entrance and exit ramps nearly complete, with the electronic toll gantries already installed on the northbound exit ramp and southbound entrance ramp. Photo: Google Earth.

The cost of the project was funded in part by private developers, including Family Dynamics Land Company, LLC, which donated all the land for the project, and Minneola Mountain Properties Community Redevelopment Area, which raised funds for the construction of the interchange, itself, according to the FDOT.

The completion of Hancock Road, which was an integral part of the interchange project, was funded by both Family Dynamics and by the government of Lake County, where the interchange is located.

Florida’s Turnpike Closing Overnight For One Week

North Section Of Turnpike Being Modified To Accommodate More Traffic

A five-mile stretch of Florida’s Turnpike will be closing overnight starting Monday, March 13, 2017 and continuing through Friday, March 17, 2017, officials with Florida’s Department of Transportation have announced. The closures will be in effect for a four-hour period each morning, from about 12:30 a.m. until 4:30 a.m., authorities said in a written release.

The closures are necessary, officials said, to accommodate road-widening and resurfacing along that stretch of the Turnpike, through Wildwood. Additional improvements will also improve traffic flow at the I-75 interchange with Florida’s Turnpike, officials announced.

Detours During Turnpike Closure

Path of detour on Florida's Turnpike
Drivers who want to get onto Florida’s Turnpike southbound from I-75 will have to exit I-75 at Florida’s State Road 44, then travel east to U.S. 301. From U.S. 301, drivers can travel southbound to the entrance of Florida’s Turnpike.

Drivers who are traveling north on Florida’s Turnpike will follow the same detour, but in the opposite direction. Drivers will be detoured off the turnpike at Exit 304, then turned north on U.S. 301 to Florida State Road 44. Drivers will then be detoured west on SR 44 to I-75.

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.

South Florida Service Plazas Reopen On Florida’s Turnpike

Florida's TurnpikeThe Florida Highway Patrol is reporting at this hour that three service plazas on Florida’s Turnpike have reopened. With Hurricane Matthew’s influence significantly diminished in the South Florida area, officials have reopened the Snapper Creek Service Plaza on the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike. The Pompano Beach Service Plaza and the West Palm Beach Service Plaza are also reopened at this time.

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.

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.

Service Plazas Close On Florida’s Turnpike

Hurricane Matthew Forces Closures To Protect Plaza Staff

Category 4 Hurricane Bears Down On Coast

The virulence of Hurricane Matthew and the size of its wind field has prompted officials with Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise to close the service plazas along Florida’s Turnpike. Nearly all plazas were closed by 7:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, officials wrote in a news release. Only The Okahumpka Service Plaza was left off the list of closures.

Hurricane Matthew forecast track 2016-10-06 5PM EDT

Hurricane Matthew’s forecast track brings it along Florida’s coast late Thursday night and into Friday morning. Transportation department officials have announced they are closing service plazas along Florida’s Turnpike in order to protect workers.

The plaza closings were effected at the following times:

Authorities announced they would reopen the plazas after the storm was no longer a threat. “All Turnpike Service Plazas will re-open after Matthew passes and all the structures are deemed safe for operation and occupation,” the release read.

Editor’s note: This page was updated at 9:16 p.m. EDT to reflect the following changes: Shows updated closing times for Turkey Lake and Canoe Creek Service Plazas. Changed first paragraph to show all plazas closed except Okahumpa, near Wildwood.