The Truth About Tolls from Commissioner Xavier Suarez

We have been working together with Commissioner Xavier Suarez to address the MDX’s plan to increase tolls and expand highways. He penned the following letter to the MDX board which hits the nail on the head:

Open letter to MDX Members:

I have recently been briefed by your chairman and have exchanged letters of inquiry with your executive director.

My main concern is what appears as an ever-increasing effort to impose user fees (by means of tolls) on motorists traversing what are essentially urban arteries.

As a general rule, the idea of charging users for roads already built and whose cost for maintenance is low (due to our favorable weather conditions) contradicts the logic of consumption of public goods, whose fixed costs are high but whose marginal cost of each user is minimal.

The agency was given authority, some 16 years ago, for five expressways in our county. Some of those were underused at the time and are still not particularly congested. In return for that grant of authority and control, the agency “defeased” (assumed the obligation for) a mere $60 million previously owed by the state.

Since that time, you have increased the debt to over $1.2 billion, meaning that you have increased debt for those urban roadways by a staggering 2,000%!

A big chunk of that new debt, comprising more than a quarter billion dollars, was spent on reconstructing interchanges. Aside from the wisdom of spending such huge amounts in just connecting existing roadways, it is apparent that no thought was given to what economists call the “transactional cost” of such improvements – meaning the amazing disruption of traffic patterns, the bewildering confusion for motorists, and the additional congestion during the transitional period.

Now it appears as if the agency wishes to tax us at all points in the system, comprising a daily charge of as much as $8 round-trip for folks commuting from the southernmost tip of Miami-Dade to the northeasternmost tip.

I have lived in four American cities: Washington DC, Philadelphia, Boston and Miami. In none, except Miami, has it become necessary to charge motorists for use of normal roadways in the metropolitan area.

Your proposed new tolls, covering the entirety of SR 836, and including a cost of living increase, are nothing short of cruel and unusual punishment for urban dwellers who have very little alternative due to our inefficient and overly costly system of mass transportation.

I am also concerned about what appears as a doubling of the interest expense from FY 2010 to FY 2011, from approximately $19 million to about $38 million.

It should be noted, in that connection that if you combine the $38 million paid in annual interest payments to the $24 million paid in annual operating expenses, the cost to maintain the system exceeds the entire initial debt. In other words, more is being spent on a yearly basis to maintain these five expressways than the entire debt obligation assumed 16 years ago.

Our county notoriously pays more in state taxes than it receives. By accepting responsibility for five essentially completed expressways and taxing users going forward for expansion thereof, your agency has aggravated the inequity of our transportation cost-benefit equation, when considered vis-a-vis the rest of the state.

I should also mention the bewilderment felt by our thirteen million visitors, when they see signs that say “no cash allowed” or “all cash vehicles must leave the expressway.” When you add that confusion to our strange system of highways, where no lane is safe from disappearing or flowing in a totally different direction, the overall effect is to disinvite those that make up our key industry.

Based on the above, I urge you to delay this decision until you have considered every other possible alternative.

Thank you in advance for your consideration hereof.

Very Truly Yours,

Xavier L. Suarez

Way to go Commish! this is much needed clarity and leadership from the BCC. #vision #leadership

13 thoughts on “The Truth About Tolls from Commissioner Xavier Suarez”

  1. I agree. I already pay taxes in gas and home to take care roads in Miami Dade county and the state. I don’t think I should pay tolls to move fast in a city that we don’t have alternate roads to drive.

  2. Thank you commissioner Suarez, finally we have someone that does not just want to rob all the residents of DADE county of some very much needed money. Not to add the fact you are driving business from other states out of our state, as they need to spend every dollar on useless, and overspent highways.
    Hope you become the norm , not the thugs MDX has become not that they were any better when it was started.


    Rafael Compte

  3. Dear Sirs,

    I can address you both this way, because you are not the garbage sitting on the board of the so called MDX, quasi legal organization fleecing money from all resident of Miami Dade County.

    Let us have a site that will count all the votes you will need to get rid of all these common day robbers out of our lives . They should no longer be called citizens , rather bots waiting for you to pass by so they can tax you one more time.

    They do not deserve our respect or admiration as they have taken steps to earn neither.


  4. Politicians may like the road/utility paradigm (toll by use) put forth by Poole and others, but citizens tend to just look at them like taxes. If the tolls are excessive, that utility thing won’t wash and you get push-back. This is why we are seeing interesting things happening all over. Georgia will abolish 400 tolls by Thanksgiving. This is an international story being discussed all over the world. Governments say they cannot afford to pay for infrastructure, but working class families are in the same position!

    For the most part, tolls pay for debt, not roads. Private or independent tolling authorities are subject to the same downfall as governments. They can spend irresponsibly, invest in the wrong things and tax excessively. They need local oversight and authority, vision and fiscal constraint.

    That’s the bottom line for me.

  5. Can I simply say what a relief to iscover somebody who
    actually understands what they’re talking abbout online.
    You certainly realize how to bring an issue to light and make it important.
    More and more people should check this out and understand this side of your story.
    I was surprised that you’re not more popular given that you definitely possess
    the gift.

    Feel free to sutf to my blog post :: web page – Wolfgang

    1. Hey Justin,Loved your review on FindLaw and their Web Solutions. Over $1100 per month for the site and hoitnsg and minimal SEO (link wheel basically).. That’s crazy! If you don’t mind me asking how LARGE or detailed/animated was your website at the time? I’m thinking about offering a local all inclusive service to local, medium sized firms that will include new site development, hoitnsg, email accounts, natural SEO, weekly blog postings (every static site will INCLUDE a blog section) that will also be published to Facebook, Twitter, & LinkedIn accounts that I’ve created. And of course pertinent directory inclusion, Google/Bing Maps etc For like $7500 a year.I guess I’m just trying to get some feedback and learn a little bit more about what these big dogs are charging/doing. Regards and thanks,Scott Godar

  6. Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit andd sources back to your blog?
    My website is in the exact same niche aas yours and my users would genuinely
    benefit from a lot of the information yoou present
    here. Please let me kow if this alright with you.
    Many thanks!

    Also visit mmy blog … poolside collection

  7. What about Federal money? All those billions we have paid in gas taxes the past 40 years?
    All major US cities have several Federal highways and roads. Atlanta (much smaller that Miami) has 4 toll-free Federal highways.
    What do we have? outdated I-95 with Lexus Lanes and 2 miles of I-75 with Lexus lanes.
    Demand that politicians tell us where the Federal highway money is!

Leave a Reply to Rafael Compte Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.