TAMPA, Fla. - Drivers in the Bay Area could end up having to pay a toll to cross the Howard Frankland Bridge.
State transportation officials are proposing the idea as an option to help pay for new northbound lanes of the bridge by 2022. That's if the state gas tax isn't raised. The cost for the replacement is estimated to be as high as $500 million.
Drivers we spoke with, especially those who take the Howard Frankland every day, said it would really impact them. "That would cost me a lot of money if I had to pay for that every day. I'm not sure that a toll would be something that I'd want to see," said driver Melanie Newberg.
"Oh, man, that would not be good at all because I live in Brandon and I commute," said driver Jimmy Joseph.
Pinellas County Commissioner Nancy Bostock said she was surprised to hear about the proposal on such a heavily traveled roadway.
"Tolls can be a good way of funding your roads, but unless you're doing it instead of a gasoline tax, just layering it on top, it's going to be a hard sell," she said.
We also reached out to State Senator Jack Latvala and told him about the Howard Frankland toll proposal. He then called the DOT secretary himself. "I told him in no uncertain terms that boat won't float. Making the Howard Frankland a toll bridge is not in the realm of possibilities as far as I'm concerned," said he said over the phone.
The senator believes the idea is also impractical.
The toll proposal is something that is still 10-15 years down the road. Whether it happens or not depends heavily on if the state gas tax is raised. It's unclear right now what the toll would cost.