Last Wednesday, on the heels of the news that the Venetian Causeway bridge between mainland Miami and the islands would have to be demolished and rebuilt, the folks who run the roadway made more news:
Miami-Dade’s Causeway Division stopped collecting the $24 administrative fee its long charged Venetian property owners for toll transponders.
That move came a week before the April 30 deadline to pay the fee — and some residents had already paid up.
But on April 23, people were turned away. One of them was Belle Isle resident Steve Neifeld, who showed up at the toll plaza office to pay for two cars registered at his 9 Island Avenue condo.
Causeways Division Chief Mike Bauman explained that the county decided to stop collecting the $24 because of ongoing litigation over the fee.
The Venetian was originally built by a private developer, and the legal agreement transferring the roadway and bridges to the county included language that required it be free to property owners on the Venetian islands.
“We’ve been advised to stop charging the $24,” Bauman explained in an email last week. “I cannot say anything about that because of the litigation. I am seeking further direction on what to do about those that have paid.”
A week later, the direction appears to be: Come back and pay up.
Neifeld got a call from the Causeways office Tuesday afternoon telling him he had to come back and pay the fee. “So much for the free ride,” he said.
Bauman confirmed the fee is again being collected, but would only say: “We are required to follow implementing orders.”
The now-cancelled waiver did not apply to renters on the Venetian Islands, or people who use the C-Pass transponders and work on one of the islands. They pay $90 annual for unlimited trips across the causeway.
The Venetian is supposed to switch to SunPass starting this summer, though that is likely to be delayed because of the Venetian west bridge construction.
Venetian property owners’ SunPass devices will be coded so they are not charged tolls for passing through the Venetian toll booths.