"I don't think you're going to see a traditional gas tax increase, I think the Legislature will fight that dramatically" - Rep. Jeff Brandes (R-St.Petersburg)
St. Petersburg, Florida - The 10 News Investigators have been talking with local legislators about alternatives to tolls on the Howard Frankland Bridge. State Transportation Secretary Ananth Prasad said Wednesday that mandatory tolls were one option to help pay for the half-billion dollar bridge replacement, due sometime around 2025.
The tolls were mentioned because traditional sources of funding have dried up (gas tax revenues have plummeted as gas mileages have improved; Congress has reduced spending on infrastructure).
Several Tampa Bay lawmakers told 10 News there will be free options on the Howard Frankland as long as they're in office.
One possibility would be for the state to charge - instead of a flat 18.4 cents per gallon - a penny or two for every mile driven. New technologies would be utilized to charge drivers' accounts much like a SunPass.
"I don't think you're going to see a traditional gas tax increase," said State Rep. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg. "We're going to go to a user-fee model ... 10 to 15 years down the road ... because, as cars are getting 50 miles per gallon, the (current gas tax) model breaks."
Governor Rick Scott said earlier this week that there's been no decision yet whether FDOT's budget would cover all, part, or none of the new bridge's $500 million cost.
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