Fla. toll road agencies to merge by 2016



CENTRAL FLORIDA - There's a major change coming to who handles toll-road drivers' dollars.

It entails E-pass being phased out.

Eyewitness News discovered there are talks underway between the state and all its toll agencies to put everyone under one name.

For some drivers, it's E-Pass or SunPass depending on location.

The changes means there will only be one name on toll roads in the next couple of years.

Karen Dean's drive on toll roads can only be described one way.

"It's kind of like a mystery," Dean said.

That's because the signs constantly change from E-Pass to SunPass when she comes from Osceola County.

It's even more confusing when the tolls tell her she has enough money on her E-pass and she knows she's low on funds.

"I know at E-Pass, I'm at least 35 (dollars) at negative but I just got a green "Go, thank you" through SunPass coming here," Dean said.

WFTV discovered it could be as soon as 2015 when both systems communicate better with each other, because anything that says E-Pass will become SunPass.

With one name will come one office drivers will have to deal with instead of two, the way it is now.

E-Pass is currently owned and operated by the Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority. Florida's Turnpike Enterprise owns SunPass.

The agencies that own SunPass and E-Pass will need to agree on how to handle unpaid violations if a driver runs the toll.

The Orlando Orange County Expressway Authority puts a hold on  license plate renewal.

With Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, drivers also face that penalty and the possibility of a suspended license.

One big detail still getting sorted out is whether or not customer service centers will still be around.

E-Pass has two in central Florida. SunPass doesn't have one that drivers can go to.

WFTV also learned the state will use a private company to collect money from electronic tolls.

The company will eventually distribute all the money back to the toll authorities where it was collected.

"That's great news. That's great, I mean it would make it simpler," Dean said.

The change comes as the entire country works toward a system where all toll systems can communicate with each other by 2016.

By mid-July, drivers will be able to use SunPass in North Carolina.