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OCX denounces wrong-way toll drivers

Posted on Tuesday, August 15, 2017 at 5:13 pm

By Ken Jackson
Staff Writer
Traffic counts are still above projections on the Poinciana Parkway — over 9,000 cars cross the Reedy Creek swamp north of Marigold Avenue daily and just over 2,000 travel the south end from Cypress Parkway past Koa Street.
It’s a toll road, but according to a consultant for the Osceola County Expressway Authority (OCX), there may be a few people not willing to pay their share to ride the road — and they’re doing some pretty dangerous things to get out of paying.
Eyewitnesses said they’ve observed drivers traveling in the oncoming traffic lanes of at least one of the

 

An OCX consultant said eyewitnesses have reported motorists driving the wrong way through Poinciana Parkway toll gantries, like this one north of Marigold Avenue, to avoid tolls. Photo/AAroads.com

toll gantries, which read either E-Pass transponders or license plates for Toll-By-Plate charging slightly higher than the 50 cent Koa or $2 Marigold toll transponder users pay.
Jan Everett of AECOM, OCX’s consultant, said after her office received the reports, they asked the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office to set up random stops in July after the reports came in during June.
During the check, she said law enforcement reported making 50 stops and writing 40 citations, mostly for speeding and illegally passing on a double-yellow line, but they did not observe anyone going through a tollbooth from the wrong direction. The Sheriff’s Office has yet to confirm those totals.
Sensors read the transponders and plates in the lane of normal traffic. According to OCX, those sensors can still read cars’ information if they travel
on the shoulder of the travel lane.
But, crossing the double-yellow line is incredibly hazardous, said OCX Chairman Atlee Mercer, and he implores no other drivers put themselves in harm’s way.
“It’s just so dangerous, worse than driving and texting,” he said. “Someone could get seriously hurt or killed over, what? A couple dollars or 50 cents? I’d love it if we could get a picture of them and post it on our website. ‘Do you know this wrong-way driver?’”
There is no permanent median barrier separating the northbound and southbound lanes at the toll gantries. Yellow delineators — plastic lane dividers attached into the ground — stretch about 800 feet out from each end of the tolls, meaning drivers would have to drive over a quarter-mile in the wrong lane to execute this risky maneuver.
Everett said, even if wrong-way drivers are caught, putting in a concrete median barrier isn’t feasible.
“As a two-lane road, the barrier eliminates a driver’s opportunity to take evasive action,” she said. “It’s not practical, it’s worth more trouble than it saves.”