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Automation Would Save Money At Card Sound Toll Booth

Charles Trainor Jr.
Miami Herald Staff

  The Keys have changed a lot in the last four decades — ask anyone who's visited or lived there during that time.

But one thing has remained the same: the toll collected at the booth on Card Sound Road, the only connection between the islands and the mainland other than U.S. 1. It's 50 cents an axle, the same price it has been since 1969.

"What's the same price as it was in 1969?" Monroe County Administrator Roman Gastesi said Wednesday. "Nothing. Only that toll."

And unlike almost every other toll collected on South Florida roads, that money is still handed to an actual person.

The Monroe County Commission this week heard from consultants who investigated the costs and potential benefits of automating the toll booth.

They reported that the county could reduce its overall costs at the toll station by 20 percent. The county currently collects almost $1 million annually in tolls.

Electronic toll collection via Sunpass would also allow the county to raise the toll by small increments. It will need the money in coming decades to pay for the repair and eventual replacement of the Card Sound Bridge.

Card Sound Road leads to North Key Largo, site of the exclusive Ocean Reef Club. Though it is a longer route than the toll-free 18 Mile Stretch of U.S. 1, many locals  prefer the road as a less busy alternative.