Orange Co. tolls may be used to build roads in other counties

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

A bill in the legislature would get rid of the Orlando-Orange County Expressway Authority, merging it with other toll authorities.

That means drivers who take State Road 408 or any other toll road in Orange County could soon be paying to build toll roads in other counties.

Page 10 of the latest version of a Senate bill creates the Central Florida Expressway System that would oversee all toll roads in Orange, Lake, Seminole and Osceola counties.

Orange County leaders are trying to stop that from happening.

Orange County Commissioners passed a resolution Tuesday telling Tallahassee they don't support the change, especially since the new board would consist of 11 appointed members rather than representatives elected by the public.

Three members would be from Orange County.

"What we don't want to see is a board that doesn't reflect fairly the interest of those toll payers," Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs said.

Driver Luz Scamparle realizes that she has to pay for convenience with her new E-pass, but she said at least she knows it goes to a toll road she uses.

"There's no alternatives because it's longer routes, more traffic and you end up spending more in gas," Scamparle said.

Toll payers like Scamparle will be the ones paying the price.

"They should pay for their own. Why should I have to spend money on another county when there are so many needs in Orlando?" Scamparle said.

Commissioners said they would support the bill only if there was language that allowed them to also have a say how toll money would be spent.

"I'm concerned with the makeup, and that we don't have a safeguard in there that tolls don't continue to rise on the 408 to pay for outlying roads," Jacobs said.