DeSantis suspends Garcon Point Bridge tolls for another 30 days

Gov. Ron DeSantis has suspended the tolls on Garcon Point Bridge for another 30 days, lawmakers confirmed Tuesday evening.

State Sen. Doug Broxson and state Rep. Alex Andrade told the News Journal that DeSantis lifted the tolls for 30 more days as the Florida Department of Transportation inspects damage to the Pensacola Bay Bridge from barge collisions during Hurricane Sally.

The extended suspension of tolls is now in effect until 6 a.m. Friday, Oct. 23.

The Pensacola Bay Bridge was damaged in multiple location from loose Skanska construction barges during Hurricane Sally.

FDOT said Tuesday it may take three weeks or longer to fully inspect the bridge, know the full extent of the damage and come up with a repair plan.

The toll was set to resume at 6 a.m. Wednesday, but DeSantis told local officials that tolls would be lifted while the Pensacola Bay Bridge, also known as the Three Mile Bridge, is repaired. 

DeSantis’ office was expected to issue the order before the current order expired at 6 a.m. 

Commuters forced to take the Garcon Point Bridge faced paying a $5 toll each way without the suspension of tolls on the privately owned bridge.

Latest on the barges: Skanska confirms 22 barges washed ashore during Hurricane Sally, 12 onto private property

Also, a new temporary traffic signal is operational at the intersection of State Road 281 (Avalon Boulevard) and Interstate 10 in Santa Rosa County, according to FDOT.

The temporary signal was installed to ease traffic flow due to the increased use of the Garcon Point Bridge. Message boards have been placed near the intersection to alert drivers about the temporary signal.

FDOT operates and maintains the Garcon Point Bridge pursuant to a lease purchase agreement with the Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority. This includes collecting and remitting tolls to the trustee for the authority’s bondholders.

Local officials announced Tuesday they were investigating setting up a passenger ferry service as an alternative to car travel on the Garcon Point Bridge or State Road 87.

Jim Little can be reached at jwlittle@pnj.com and 850-208-9827.

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