Major Highway Change for Destin-Bound Travelers
Be Aware of New Toll-by-Plate Charging System
If you are headed to the Destin area for spring break, there’s a major change in your route to the beach. The Mid-Bay Bridge Connector opened more than one year ago, allowing travelers to bypass Niceville and avoid 14(!) traffic signals.
- The new controlled access highway connects the north end of the Mid-Bay Bridge with SR 85 immediately north of Niceville. ¬†The connector dramatically reduces the time required to drive from the interstate to points throughout the region.
- But vacationers be warned – the state of Florida is using a toll-by-plate collection system on this new highway. ¬†The toll collection method takes a photo of your vehicle’s license plate as it travels through the connector. ¬†There’s no stopping – signs warn you to keep moving.
- Signs also now warn that there is a monthly administrative charge of $2.50 per billing cycle. The base toll for a regular vehicle is $1.50.¬†
- This toll-by-plate system upset some travelers when the connector opened last year. According to an article in the Northwest Florida Daily News, Mid-Bay Bridge Authority Executive Director Jim Vest ¬†says the administrative charge is decreed by the Florida Turnpike System. ¬†‚ÄúIt‚Äôs $2.50 a month to send you an invoice, whether you went through the toll once or 20 times,‚ÄĚ Vest said. ¬†
- You can avoid the administrative charge. Drivers can create a prepaid account with toll-by-plate. For more information, go to¬†www.tollbyplate.com¬†. ¬†
- Even with the extra charge, the connector is expected to be worth it, especially on Saturdays when vacationers are oh-so-close to Destin. During busy times such as spring break and the summer months, it will cut several minutes off your travels since you are avoiding the bumper-to-bumper traffic on John Sims Parkway/SR 20 and those 14 traffic lights!
- It’s important to note that there is still also a separate toll to cross the Destin Mid-Bay Bridge of an additional $3.¬† The bridge toll is paid to attendants at the bridge.
Safe Travels & Happy Spring Break!