Florida’s Turnpike, also designated as State Road 91, is a user-financed, limited-access toll road that runs 312 miles, through 11 counties, beginning near Florida City in Miami-Dade County and terminating near Wildwood in Sumter County.
The Florida State Turnpike Authority was authorized by the Florida legislature and signed into law by Governor Dan McCarty as the Turnpike Authority Act on July 11, 1953. Originally designated the Sunshine State Parkway, the Turnpike was constructed in two major projects. The first project was the 110-mile route between Golden Glades and Ft. Pierce. The Parkway opened to traffic on January 25, 1957. In 1960, the Turnpike began a study for a proposed extension to Orlando. In 1961, Project II, from Ft. Pierce to Orlando was authorized.
The 61-mile section of the Parkway between Yeehaw Junction and south Orlando opened on July 17, 1963, but the section connecting Yeehaw Junction to Ft. Pierce did not open until November 22, 1963. The final section of the Parkway, and current northern limit of the Turnpike, opened at the connection with Interstate 75 in Sumter County on July 24, 1964. Interstate 4 was not complete when the northern project was constructed; that interchange was not completed until April 18, 1967.
On June 5, 1962, a meeting was held to discuss a proposed toll road from Orlando to Cape Canaveral. That road later became SR 528, the Bee Line Expressway. The 47-mile Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike (HEFT) and the eight-mile Bee Line Connector were approved as the third expansion project of the Turnpike in July 1969 when the Turnpike became part of the Florida Department of Transportation. Project III was funded through the sale of $115 million in 1970 Series Bonds. In early 1973, the HEFT opened to traffic between Golden Glades and US 27 (seven miles). The remaining sections of the Homestead extension opened to traffic in stages through May 1975. Meanwhile, on July 23, 1973, the Bee Line Connector opened to traffic between the Turnpike and McCoy Air Force Base Road, and on December 15, 1973 from the Turnpike to Interstate 4.
Evolution of the Turnpike
The Turnpike was reorganized and incorporated into the newly-formed Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in July 1969. The Turnpike’s functions became part of the FDOT pursuant to the reorganization of the State Government Act. At that time, individual FDOT Districts managed the Turnpike work program, operations and maintenance in their areas. In 1988, the Florida Legislature created the Office of Florida’s Turnpike.
In 1990, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 1316, authorizing the expansion of Florida’s Turnpike to include construction of non-contiguous road projects as an alternative to assist in meeting the State’s backlog of needed highway facilities. The Legislature set environmental and financial feasibility standards, authorized toll increases on the existing system and allowed higher rate per mile tolls on the new projects through Chapter 339.2275(3) of the Florida Statutes. The Legislature approved expansion projects and new interchanges subject to verification of economic feasibility, determination that the projects are consistent, to the maximum extent feasible, with approved local government comprehensive plans were projects are located, and completion of a statement of the project’s significant environmental impacts. Fifty road projects were submitted for consideration and, ultimately, ten new roads were identified for possible construction, subject to meeting the feasibility requirements, and 15 new interchanges. In addition, the Turnpike purchased the Sawgrass Expressway (Toll Road 869) from the Broward County Expressway Authority.
On April 11, 2002, Governor Bush signed House Bill 261, creating Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, and directing the Turnpike to pursue innovation and best private-sector business practices, to improve cost-effectiveness and timeliness in project delivery, to increase revenues and expand its capital program, and to improve quality of service to its customers. At that time, the Office of Toll Operations, formerly a separate division of the State of Florida, was folded into the Enterprise.
Currently, more than 2.2 million motorists use the Turnpike’s system of roads every day. The Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise five year work program (2016-2020) contains more than $3.7 billion in capital improvements, which include widening the mainline roadway, new interchanges, safety improvements, resurfacing improvements and maintenance.
Turnpike Enterprise Director
SunPass Snapper Creek Center
Milepost 19 on the Homestead Extension of Florida’s Turnpike
SunPass Boca Raton Center
7941 Glades Road
Boca Raton, FL 33434
SunPass Pinellas Bayway Center
4501 54th Avenue South
Saint Petersburg, FL 33711