The department announced this weekend that it was raising tolls on the Garcon Point Bridge, which opened in 1999 over part of Pensacola Bay but has had inadequate toll revenues to meet financial obligations.

After a legal battle with bondholders, the Florida Department of Transportation has raised tolls on a financially troubled Santa Rosa County bridge.


The department announced this weekend that it was raising tolls on the Garcon Point Bridge, which opened in 1999 over part of Pensacola Bay but has had inadequate toll revenues to meet financial obligations.


The department’s move came after Leon County Circuit Judge John Cooper last week ordered that tolls increase.


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UMB Bank, which is the trustee for bondholders, filed the lawsuit in December 2018 because bonds used to finance the bridge were in default.


The dispute stems from about $95 million in bonds that the state-created Santa Rosa Bay Bridge Authority issued in 1996 to pay for construction of the bridge.


The situation has been complicated because the bridge authority has been effectively defunct since 2014, according to court documents.


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The lawsuit focused on whether the Department of Transportation should be required to raise the tolls.


Cooper in December directed the department to increase tolls, but the department did not act by Feb. 1, spurring UMB Bank to go back to Cooper and request the order that he issued last week.


The department raised tolls, effective Sunday, from $3.75 to $4.50 for two-axle vehicles when motorists use the SunPass system and to $5 for motorists who pay cash. It also trimmed a discount for frequent users of the bridge.