Orlando: Toll Road City, USA

If you’ve ever vacationed in Orlando, and I’m guessing you have because you found this article, you know our highway infrastructure is a little bit different than most cities. 

Orlando is different from other cities because we have two cities in one: Orlando & Disney (Disney is definitely its own city: they have their own power plant, government, and fire station!) 

Two cities in one means city planning and development can be a little convoluted. We have a huge business that brings in 70 million visitors a year, and the Central Florida region has a population of over 3 million people commuting to and from work. Sounds like a recipe for congestion, or, a great way for the local government to make extra income in the form of tolls. 

If you’ve flown into Central Florida and rented a car, I’m guessing the rental car employee heavily suggested upgrading to the toll transponder option, eliminating the need to stop at every toll booth. It’s a good move, because you literally cannot leave the airport without using a toll road (except if you’re using Boggy Creek Rd, but I digress)

Roads that Require Tolls

Toll roads include:

State Road 528 – takes you from Orlando to the beach!

State Road 408 – cuts right through downtown Orlando East & West

State Road 417 – slingshots you around Orlando on the East

State Road 429 – slingshots you around the West side of Orlando

The only road that doesn’t require toll payment is I-4. Ahh, yes, Interstate 4. You’ve probably heard of it. You may have even had the pleasure of driving on it! I-4 is usually pretty busy for Orlando standards, (if you’re from New York or New Jersey I know you’re laughing right now) but the road connects directly to Orlando and Disney and hasn’t had any major renovations since it was built in the 60’s. 

That is until now! We are blessed with the I-4 Ultimate project, which is the largest major overhaul of Interstate 4 ever in Orlando history. Instead of rebuilding and redesigning I-4 bit by bit, local authorities decided to remodel a 20-mile section all at once. If you’re thinking that’s a terrible idea, you’re absolutely right. 

The good news is that exits and major intersections will be redesigned, and I-4 will have an optional toll express lane. Meaning every major road in Orlando will be a toll road by the end of the I4 Ultimate Project. 

Why toll roads aren’t so bad

I grew up with toll roads, and I know most major cities have them. I prefer to drive on toll roads because they’re very well maintained (I know that’s not the case in parts of the country like the Northeast and West coast) Orlando toll roads are clean, well-maintained, and usually less congested, even during rush hour. 

How to buy a toll transponder

Your best bet is to head to Publix (our local grocery store that is very near and dear to every Floridian’s heart) and pick up a $5.00 toll sticker at the checkout lane. After you add your credit card and add your car’s info to your account, you’re good to go! You are now free to drive about the Orlando area. 

Eric Gross

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