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.
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.
No Statement Issued About Service Plazas Reopening As Gas Supplies Disrupted
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise continues with a multi-year construction project to renovate all service plazas across the turnpike, with the Canoe Creek Service Plaza becoming the latest addition to the list of plazas undergoing renovations. The Canoe Creek travel plaza is located at mile marker 229, just south of the Disney-Area exits in Osceola County. At this time, the gas station remains open, with some food in the convenience store. The only other food available at this time is from the Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant. The food court is undergoing a complete renovation that will not be completed for several months.
Further north, in the heart of the Orlando Metro Area, the Turkey Lake Service Plaza construction continues unabated, with final work on the new food court underway. However, some limited food service is available. Nathan’s Hot Dogs recently reopened, and there is a new convenience store and gas station operating at the travel plaza, located at mile marker 263, between the I-4 and East-West Expressway exits.
The upgrade to Florida Turnpike service plazas will cost about $162-million. It is expected traffic through the service plazas will be largely unaffected by the construction work. A clerk at the Canoe Creek Service Plaza told TurnpikeInfo.com Wednesday night, January 30, the traffic going through the plaza was moving, “pretty good,” and that no construction vehicles were blocking any access.