Four weeks ago, an editorial entitled "Just say no to toll hike" appeared on these pages. In that column, news of the Lee County Commissioners' plan to raise tolls on three local crossings - including the Sanibel Causeway - was beginning to make big waves across the islands, becoming the hottest topic around town in several years.
According to the Lee County Department of Transportation, revenues on three county crossings - the Sanibel Causeway, Cape Coral Bridge and Midpoint Bridge - are down almost five percent over the past 12 months, a loss of almost $4 million.
As a result, the DOT would like the County Commission to approve adjusting the LeeWay toll discount program. For example, the fee to cross the causeway would jump from $2 to $3 per trip, an increase of 50 percent.
But the problem doesn't seem to be our causeway, with a reported revenue increase of just under one percent. Funds generated by both Cape crossings are down more than four percent.
In the June 11 editorial, we asked the question: Why should Sanibelians, workers and visitors to this island be punished for being a successful component of an obviously flawed toll discount program?
To that end, we encouraged our readers to write to the Lee County Commission to voice their opposition to altering the LeeWay toll discount program.
Commissioner Tammy Hall obviously took note of the opinions being expressed by islanders, so much so that a public hearing on the proposed toll hike has been scheduled to take place on Sanibel.
A meeting between DOT officials and members of the public will take place on Tuesday, July 14 at the Sanibel Community House, located at 2173 Periwinkle Way. It is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m., but due to the large number of participants that are expected to attend, we would like to encourage folks to arrive as early as 3:30 p.m.
(A second toll discount meeting will be held on Wednesday, July 15 at La Venezia, located at 4646 SE 10th Place in Cape Coral starting at 6 p.m.)
We hope that the DOT will be able to answer the many "why" questions that are out there and our citizens will be able to make a strong case against the proposal that has been presented.
Why should the county be looking at picking our pockets when the problem seems to be someone else's pants have holes in them? It's a bad plan - let's let them know just that.
- Reporter editorial