The 20 percent toll increase coming Oct. 1 means most vehicles crossing the Boca Grande Swing Bridge will pay $1 more in less than two months from now or a $6 toll.
It's also clear this will not be the last toll increase, especially if Gasparilla Island voters turn down the .30 mill property tax increase on the Nov. 6 general election ballot.
Facing a $40 million estimated expense in building three new bridges, the GIBA Board, Financial Committee Chairman Bill Holmberg and Jim Cooper, GIBA executive director have struggled to devise a revenue plan that distributes the payment burden fairly.
An aerial view of the three cranes working on the Gasparilla Island bridge project.
Many islanders at a recent GIBA meeting said they will not back the property tax increase, which would cost the average $1 million homeowner on Gasparilla Island $300 annually. If this option is rejected, it will narrow the options available to GIBA and force tolls higher than if it was not passed.
But tolls won't reach anywhere near $10, as some have speculated, said Holmberg.
"Certainly not," he said.
What: GIBA Board meeting
When: 1:30 p.m. Nov. 2
Where: Boca Grande Community Center Woman's Club Room
Why: Bridge replacement project
Who: Open to the public
Bridge construction keys
Prime contractor: Orion Marine Construction of Tampa
Start: Construction began March 12 on Center and South fixer bridges
South Bridge completion: March 2013
Center Bridge completion: December 2013
GIBA ad valorem milestones
April 25: Decided specific terms of property tax to be placed on ballot
July 9: File ballot language with county
Oct. 1: Toll increases to $6 per vehicle
Oct. 19: Official public notice of referendum
Nov. 6: Election Day
GIBA toll revenues have increased since the last 25 percent increase in October 2010.
After the next increase, GIBA projects toll revenues will rise by $772,981 to $4.26 million.
Cash tolls will go up $134,198 to $1.66 million and toll cards will bring in $423,851 more for an estimated $2.38 million revenue stream.
August will reveal whether GIBA has managed to procure a $30 million loan at 2 percent interest from the State Infrastructure Bank administered by the Florida Department of Transportation.
"This fundamentally changes the financing plan if we get this loan," said Holmberg, GIBA Finance Committee chairman. "But that's a big if."
The SIB loan could preclude the need for GIBA to continue to raise its toll beyond the increase already scheduled in October.
"If the SIB goes through, (GIBA) won't need to raise the tolls again at all," Holmberg said.
The GIBA Board deferred its decision on the next possible toll increase in lieu of the Nov. 6 election, which decides the property tax issue of whether or not to levy a .30 mill property tax increase to fund the bridges.
The highest increase discussed by GIBA has been $8.50 but only if the SIB loan falls through.
In the weekly GIBA update, Cooper said concrete bridge support footings will be poured from 5 a.m. to 8 a.m. each Friday for the next four weeks in a row.
Orion road crews are also trucking concrete sections of the old South Bridge to be converted to smaller rip-rap size pieces for scour protection material at water's edge around the new bridge approaches. This saved GIBA more than $100,000.
The Gasparilla Island Bridge Authority reports work on the new Center and South bridges as of Wednesday is 21 percent compete on Day 143 of the 630-day bridge project schedule.
The finish date for the new South Bridge remains March 2013 and the completion date for the new Center Bridge remains December 2013.
South Bridge progress
Orion's barge crews have finished driving the production pilings ahead of schedule. Each five-deck support bent section contains 12 concrete pilings.
Orion's road crews will continue to build up the new retaining wall for the elevated GIBA South Bridge and work on additional sheet pile installation. It should be finished next week.
The old South Bridge was eradicated June 22 after 10 days of demolition work right before TS Debby's arrival.
Center Bridge progress
All 12 in-water production pilings are now set.
Orion crews will install the remaining sheet piles on the north end and east side of the Center Bridge near the abutment walls. Single-lane traffic may occur during this period.
Excavation work at bridge abutments will continue throughout July.