Escambia County News Pensacola Politics

Commissioner Valentino on Bay Bridge Toll

February 15, 2012

Earlier this month, the Escambia County Commission passed a resolution opposing a toll on the bay bridge. State transportation officials invited Commission Chairman Wilson Robertson to Tallahassee this week to let him know they were miffed at the move, arguing the funds for needed improvements on the structure had to come from some where.

Commissioner Gene Valentino said this week that, while he was in opposition to a toll, he was more in opposition to not looking exploring alternative sources of funding more aggressively.

“That’s my problem,” Valentino said. “—that we rush to judgement, that the toll is the solution to everything. It’s not.”

The commissioner said the toll was an obvious option, but only one among many. He said he knew of 17 other funding possibilities—“an array of funding mechanisms”—such as federal and state highway grants or a gas-tax increase.

“In these austere times” Valentino said, “it is vital that we think out of the box and be very creative.”

In addition to being a locally unpopular move, going with a toll on the three-mile bridge could have negative consequences for Gulf Breeze and Pensacola Beach. Valentino noted that a toll could hurt areas accessed by the bridge because people may be less inclined to make the trip if there was a cost involved.

“The toll at the Garcon Point bridge has almost got them in bankruptcy,” the commissioner said.

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  • Cal Robinson February 16, 2012 at 11:07 am

    Ames, I have no idea who owns the roads. Just that the last time I drove down to West Palm Beach for a meeting there were toll roads all over the place and the longer you stayed on the road the more it cost to get off it.

  • Think tank in a small box February 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Is this the same commission that believes “in these austere times” that a 56 million dollar bridge bypass over Pensacola Beach is needed for pedestrian safety?

    That’s my problem with their no real planning plan$.

    The beach road was just 4 laned, landscaped, sidewalked after Ivan and now there is a new “needed plan” with the required added public safety lingo.

    If public safety is really an issue, add some additonal street lighting at the only intersection on the beach where the signal crosswalk is located and every other crossing. I’ve never seen pedestrian gridlock but it is dark to walk .

  • Ames February 16, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Cal-aren’t many of those roads owned by corporations?

  • Cal Robinson February 15, 2012 at 5:31 pm

    Try driving to south Florida. You can’t drive a hundred miles without hitting a toll road.

  • jeeperman February 15, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    So are these bean counters in Tally wanting to fund every other needed bridge with tolls too ?
    Or just those needed west of Crestview?