With six private firms competing to lease a South Florida toll road known as Alligator Alley, state transportation officials are poised to enact a toll increase to guarantee the winning bidder a profit.
The Florida Department of Transportation has scheduled two public hearings this week concerning the raising of rates along the east-west Alligator Alley, the nickname for Interstate 75 from the Naples area to Ft. Lauderdale.
Toll rates for a five-axle truck are proposed to increase July 1, 2009, from $8 to $12 for SunPass electronic transactions and from $10 to $15 for those paying cash, according to a draft of the concession agreement.
A private investor would be allowed to increase tolls after Jan. 1, 2011, to keep up with inflation.
As announced in 2007, when Gov. Charlie Crist signed enabling legislation into law, the Florida DOT has sought to lease Alligator Alley and two other roadways to private investors for 50 to 75 years.
All six private firms that made the DOT’s short list to lease Alligator Alley have at least one partner that is based in a foreign country.
The Florida DOT sent requests for proposals to the following companies:
- The Alligator Alley Development Partners, consisting of OHL Concesiones of Mexico and the U.S.-based Carlisle Group;
- Atlantia S.P.A., and Italian infrastructure investor formerly known as Autostrade;
- Vinci Concessions of France;
- A2Transportation Partners, a partnership of Brisa of Portugal, CCR of Brazil and the infrastructure subsidiary of U.S.-based JP Morgan;
- Everglades Parkway Partners, consisting of Cintra of Spain and a firm called Global Infrastructure Partners that is a partnership of General Electric and Credit Suisse; and,
- GVI-Lehman, a partnership of FCC of Spain and U.S.-based financial giant Lehman Brothers, which recently collapsed and was acquired by Barclays in the U.K.
State Sen. Dave Aronberg, D-Greenacres, is hoping to block the Alligator Alley lease.
Aronberg, who won re-election to office on Nov. 4, has prefiled a bill calling for a two-year moratorium on public-private leases and to specifically prohibit foreign-based companies from leasing state assets.
The Florida Senate begins its next session in March 2009.
Alligator Alley first became a toll road in the 1990s to pay for widening and to upgrade the roadway to interstate quality.
The two public hearings regarding proposed toll increases are scheduled for:
- Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008, open house from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a formal public hearing at 7 p.m., at the Golden Gate Community Center, 4701 Golden Gate Parkway, Naples, FL.
- Thursday, Nov. 13, 2008, open house from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by a formal public hearing at 7 p.m., at Florida Atlantic University, Davie Campus, 2912 College Ave., Liberal Arts Building Auditorium, Davie, FL.
Click here for more information about proposals for Alligator Alley.
– By David Tanner, staff writer