Major Highway Change for Destin-Bound Travelers
If you are headed to Destin this summer, there’s a major change in your route to the beach. The long-awaited Mid-Bay Bridge Connector is complete, allowing you 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 means if you travel both ways in one month, you will receive a bill in the mail for $5.50 from the state of Florida.¬†
- This toll-by-plate system upset some travelers when¬†the¬†connector¬†opened earlier this 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 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 the busy summer months, it will cut several minutes off your travels to the beach since you are avoiding the bumper-to-bumper traffic on John Sims Parkway/SR 20 and those 14 traffic lights!
Safe Travels & Happy Memorial Day!