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That weekend trip to the beach on Key Biscayne is about to get more expensive.
At midnight on Wednesday, Miami-Dade will impose a 50-cent increase on the $1.75 toll for the Rickenbacker Causeway, the lone land route to Key Biscayne and its popular oceanfront parks. The increase, along with a 50-cent hike for the Venetian Causeway between Miami and Miami Beach, was approved by county commissioners as part of Mayor Carlos Gimenez’s 2018 budget.
The new $2.25 round-trip tolls will not affect many of the most frequent users of the two toll bridges. Miami-Dade exempts property owners along the Venetian from tolls, and provides discounted rates for commuters and residents using either causeway. Those annual-plan rates are staying the same.
Motorists with SunPass transponders will pay the 50-cent hike starting Nov. 1. Those without the device face a 75-cent increase through the toll-by-plate program that photographs passing license plates. Vehicles with more than two axles — including those towing boats on trailers to the ramp at the county’s Crandon Marina on Key Biscayne — also face steeper increases. The three-axle SunPass rate rises from $10.50 to $13.50 on the Rickenbacker, and the four-axle rate from $13 to $16.70.
Multiple axles are much cheaper on the Venetian, which is one of four bridge systems connecting the beach to mainland Miami and the only one that charges a toll. The three-axle rate for the Venetian rises to just $3.80 on Wednesday, up from $2.65.
The county expects the toll increases to generate an additional $3.5 million for its causeway division, which was budgeted to produce about $12 million in toll revenue through the 2017 budget year that ended Oct. 1. Miami-Dade’s toll increases follow years of complaints about under-spending on bridge maintenance for both causeways, and the county says the new money will be used for improvements. There are big plans ahead for both.
Miami-Dade wants to replace the Venetian. It also plans improvement projects for bike lanes, roadways and bridge elements on the Venetian and the Rickenbacker. The administration of Mayor Carlos Gimenez has also been in talks architect Bernard Zyscovich about a $300 million redo of the Rickenbacker to create an extensive system of enhanced bike lanes and crossovers to improve safety on the popular cycling route.