Article Courtesy of Island Times (www.myislandtimes.com) 11/11/2014
It’s time to renew your transponder. There are a few changes to the annual ritual, so please don’t wait until the last minute.
All non-renewed passes will go inactive on December 31. In order to renew, an application can be picked up or downloaded, and filled out as necessary. Then, the application, a form of payment and the vehicle must be brought to the SRIA Office at #1 Via de Luna. The need for the vehicle to be available is so personnel can affix a 2015 windshield sticker to the car. The Bob Sikes Toll Facility is undergoing equipment and software upgrades which may not be complete until May of 2015.
“Due to the updating of the tolling system, we need a way for the toll collectors to see the annual pass has been renewed,” said Cheryl Messier, who handles the Bob Sikes Toll Facility renewal for Escambia County. “Avoid long lines and renew early. Your car has to be present at SRIA.”
There will be a $2 charge for any transponder that is not properly attached to the windshield. “A lot of annual passes are being hand held,” said Messier. “Those will not be renewed unless they are attached.”
There are approximately 40,000 transponders total but only about 15,000 of those will be renewed during this time period. The cost to renew is $50 for personal vehicles and $70 for commercial vehicles. Cash, checks, money orders and credit cards are accepted for payment. Credit cards will incur a small bank fee.
The renewal office is located in the SRIA lobby and is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. The sales office will be closed on all Federal Holidays including Veteran's Day (Nov 11), Thanksgiving (Nov. 27- 28), Christmas (Dec 24-25), New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. New transponders will go on sale beginning Monday, January 5. The hours of operation will also be extended during January.
Applications are available at the Bob Sikes Toll Facility, SRIA office and online at http://sria-fla.com/toll-pass-information.php
The Bob Sikes Bridge is owned by Escambia County and all toll revenues go to Escambia County, not to the Santa Rosa Island Authority. The money is used to pay debt for bonds issued by the county to four lane Via de Luna in 2002. According to a Pensacola News Journal article on 4/28/2014, the County currently pays about $1.5 million annually toward this debt, including the $600,000 paid by the SRIA from our lease fees. The remaining $848,000 not covered by the SRIA is funded through toll revenue from the Bob Sikes Bridge. On 4/29/14 the County Commissioners voted to terminate the agreement with the SRIA requiring us to pay $600,000 of that debt. The entire $1.5 million is now being be paid with revenue from the bridge.
According to the Escambia County Comprehensive Annual Report for 2012, the Bob Sykes Bridge toll revenues were $3,454,000. $1.5 million went to pay bond debt and another $961,000 was spent for toll booth operations and maintenance, leaving a net profit of $1 million. Another source of revenue to fund SRIA operations after lease fees?