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Bill seeks to automatically lift tolls during evacuations

File photo
File photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Tolls would automatically be lifted for motorists in counties where mandatory evacuations are ordered, under a measure filed this week in the Senate.

The proposal (SB 818), filed by Sen. Bobby Powell, D-West Palm Beach, would allow motorists to avoid paying tolls until the evacuation orders end.

The proposal follows a similar request by Democrats to the House Select Committee on Hurricane Response and Preparedness.

In advance of Hurricane Irma, Gov. Rick Scott ordered all tolls lifted on Sept. 5. The storm hit Sept. 10 and Sept. 11, and motorists were able to avoid paying almost all tolls until Sept. 21.

The state estimates that the move cost $3 million a day, or about $45 million. An estimated 6.5 million people left their homes in advance of Irma.