Broxson asks toll not be raised on Garcon Point Bridge

In letter to Warren Bloom, trustee for the Garcon Point Bridge bondholder, State Sen. Doug Broxson explained why a proposed deal to turn over the bridge to Florida Turnpike System fell apart during the 2018 legislative session.

Broxson sponsored the Senate bill and Rep. Jayer Williamson presented the House version. The bills proposed bills the state be allowed to take the findings of a feasibility study and begin negotiations with bond representatives in determining the value of your asset. If purchased, the bridge would have been placed in the Florida Turnpike System, requiring a new bond issuance and allowing the retirement of bonds issued to the current bondholders.

In the its last committee meeting, the House eliminated all language related to the study and mandated a price certain of assets of the Authority, arbitrarily re-set the toll rates, and required that the State would offer cash for the purchase. This proposal did not include any appropriation and was not part of the House’s budget submitted to the Senate for consideration. With no appropriation included in the legislation, the bill died.

“Our office has worked diligently over the last several years to find an equitable solution for the citizens of Florida and the bondholders,” Broxson wrote Bloom. “It was our goal through legislation to place your bondholders in a position to receive a legitimate offer from the State based on the considerations outlined in the 2017 FDOT study.”

Broxson committed to re-file the bill for the 2019 session. He asked that the Santa Rosa County Bridge Authority not increase the bridge toll to $5.

He wrote, “It is our intention to convene a conference between the parties to discuss proposals for resolving this issue.”

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2 thoughts on “Broxson asks toll not be raised on Garcon Point Bridge

  1. I agree with Mr. Lewis. Any person or institution buying stocks, mutual funds or bonds should know there is a risk making that investment. In this instance, those that bought bonds to finance this fiasco, I mean bridge, are not going to receive the returns they expected or were promised. To recoup any of their money, they will have to sell cheap, and take their losses like big boys. An education is never cheap.

  2. In January, this information was reported here on Rick’s Blog, “The authority owed the Department of Transportation about $33 million as of last July, including an unpaid $7.9 million loan and $25 million that had been spent on operations and maintenance. The operations and maintenance duties cost the DOT about $1.5 million a year, with the number expected to rise to $1.8 million in the next decade. Bondholders have called for an increase in the bridge’s toll, which is now $3.75 for a one-way trip.” What type of contract does the state have that requires it to lose money on the bridge and allows the authority to refuse to pay back a loan? How about FDOT walk away from the bridge, stop collecting the toll, and stop maintaining the bridge. Let the “authority” collect the toll and maintain the bridge. Obviously, it will not. Pretty soon, perhaps the bond holders will come to their senses and sell the bridge to the state for pennies on the dollar. You have to imagine that the state has some leverage because if the bridge is not properly maintained then FDOT should have the power to shut it down blocking both ends. In truth, few will notice if the bridge is shut down for a while. When I have taken it, I have been nearly the only one driving across the bridge. Once the state owns the bridge and the toll is removed, plenty of people will use the bridge to include everyone who needs to get from I-10 to Navarre or from Navarre to I-10 and wants to bypass Pensacola and Gulf Breeze. In fact, ending the toll might greatly relieve congestion on the Three Mile Bridge while the new one is under construction. The Florida Legislature was unable to get the job done. Perhaps Governor Scott can play some hardball and convince the bondholders to sell the bridge cheap.

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