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New toll fees take effect Oct. 1

Motorists urged to get transponders

By NATHAN MAYBERG - | Sep 23, 2021

Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman urges motorists to order a county transponder if you make trips to or from Sanibel and Cape Coral, where administrative fees of $3 will be charged starting Oct. 1 to anybody without a LeeWay account and transponder passing a toll bridge.

“Our goal is not to have people pay that reinstated $3 fee,” Hamman said.

Now that Lee County has made its bridges all electronic, cash is not an option. Beginning Oct. 1 though, the county will begin charging those who cross bridges a $3 administrative fee for those without a transponder. That fee is in addition to the toll.

Lee County Government is looking to get the word out to the public that transponders are available for to anybody who wants one. There is a $30 minimum cost that needs to be added onto the account before registering though the transponder stickers themselves are technically free for most vehicles.

Motorcycles require a hard case transponder which will run you $22. As part of the county’s new tolling system approved by the county commissioners this summer, motorcyclists will lose the discount they had on county bridges and will now pay the same rate as all other motorists. Hamman said the reason is that it was tough for cameras to sometimes distinguish between motorcycles and cars.

In addition, the transponders need to be prepaid in order to avoid the administrative fees. Transponder users can sign up for discount programs and can be eligible for discounts during off-peak hours. Without a positive balance in one’s LeeWay account, the administrative charges will be assessed.

The transponders can be used at all of the county’s paid bridges — at Midpoint, Cape Coral and Sanibel Causeway. During the pandemic, the county stopped physically collecting cash tolls and billed motorists by the address on their license plate. Previously, those who passed through a toll without paying cash, would be charged an administrative fee when billed. Since there were no cash options, there were no administrative fees charged to motorists for the past year. But that is all changing.

During budget talks this year, county commissioners said they expect the administrative fees to help recoup a decrease in toll revenue last year. The commissioners voted this summer to make changes to its toll collection system, while effectively ending the positions of toll collectors (though some found other jobs with the county).

Hamman said the county ended cash collection at its toll booths because “it didn’t make sense to have people exchange cash thousands of times a day. All electronic tolling is easier. It was the best time to make a change,” he said.

The $3 administrative fee is necessary due to the time it takes county staff to look up license plates and bill those motorists who are not signed up with a transponder, he said.

“The goal is to not have people pay the fee,” Hamman said.

LeeWay transponders are available at the LeeWay customer service center or by signing up online at Leewayinfo.com.

Several other toll agency transponders work at county toll plazas as well. The transponders are compatible with SunPass, E-ZPass, E-Pass, QuickPass, Peach Pass, I-Pass and Riverlink.

For those traveling in their vehicles from states with those transponder accounts, Lee County has agreements to charge those accounts the regular toll fees without any administrative cost.

Transponders are trickier for rental cars. According to the Leewayinfo.com website, transponders can be purchased for rental cars though there is a $45 administrative fee for any LeeWay account that is closed within 60 days or less of the opening date. “It is very important you call and remove the rental car information from your LeeWay account when turning the rental car in. If your car is in the shop for repairs, LeeWay can issue you a temporary transponder for your rental,” the site states.

“Rental car companies have their own agreements worked out” with customers, Hamman said. Those who use rental cars when traveling on Lee County roads should check with the company beforehand to know the charges for going over bridges.

For more detailed information regarding how the transponders work, visit www.leewayinfo.com.

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