The issue first was given Wednesday to suspend tolls on State Road 528, the Beachline, to assist with Brevard County’s mandatory evacuation. That highway saw delays Wednesday and Thursday as thousands of people left their homes and headed inland.
Later Wednesday, Scott expanded his order to included all toll roads in Florida. Tolls continued to be free until Sunday night.
Disney announced Thursday it would close its parks for just the fourth time in the resort’s history. The first three times also were for hurricanes: Sept. 15, 1999, for Floyd; Sept. 4-5, 2004, for Frances; and Sept. 26, 2004, Jeanne.
Here’s a wrapup of which parks are closing:
Disney’s theme parks, water parks, Disney Springs, miniature golf courses and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex will close by 5 p.m. today and will stay closed Friday. Disney also canceled Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party for Thursday.
The Grand Celebration cruise ship, which sails out of the Port of Palm Beach, had to receive Coast Guard approval to drop off its load of passengers Wednesday morning after the Coast Guard set the Palm Beach port’s condition to Yankee at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
Port of Palm Beach spokeswoman Tara Monks said there were about 500 passengers on board the ship.
“If (the ship) had happened to ask to stay, it would be up to the Coast Guard,” Monks said.
Cruise ships along Florida’s east coast are facing the same dilemma, AAA said, of whether to head out to calm seas or find a different port.
“Cruise line officials have already adjusted itineraries to avoid island-destinations impacted by the hurricane, but these port closures makes returning home very tricky,” AAA director of field travel support Vicky Evans said in a news release.
Cruise lines affected by Matthew include Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Disney, MSC, Norwegian and Princess, AAA said.
Three ships scheduled to return to port Thursday now will return Friday: the Empress of the Seas and Carnival Sensation, out of Port Miami; and the Carnival Victory out of Port Canaveral.
Evans advises travelers to reach out to their cruise lines to see if their trips will be affected by the storm.
FEC service will be closed tomorrow and could reopen either late Friday or Saturday, but much of that depends upon the extent of damage along FEC’s line.
Ledoux said about 100 FEC employees are staged to mobilize once the storm has passed. They’ll work in smaller crews, covering about 60 miles of track each to find and fix any damage.
The first service once the FEC line reopens will be northbound out of Miami, as Matthew is expected to move north along Florida’s coastline.
FEC also is watching storm forecasts closely to determine if and when signal arms may need to be removed. The arms will be removed once forecasts indicate an area is supposed to receive 80 mph sustained winds, Ledoux said.
CSX leaders have been monitoring Matthew and have activated the company’s Hurricane Operations Plan, a spokesperson said Wednesday.
The freight company has suspended its operations along its main line between Savannah, Ga., and Pembroke, N.C., starting today, the spokesperson said. CSX service in South Florida was suspended this morning until further notice.
The company is working with its customers to reroute freight traffic or make other arrangements as necessary as delays are expected in the Southeast, the spokesperson added.
“Safety is Brightline’s number one priority,” Brightline said in a statement. “We are closely monitoring the hurricane and have implemented the necessary safety precautions required for all active construction sites.”
As Floridians prepare for possible mandatory evacuation orders for Hurricane Matthew, one question may come to mind: Will you have to pay tolls on Florida’s Turnpike before, during and after the storm?
Gov. Rick Scott said Wednesday that he has authorized the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend tolls in counties where there are evacuation orders issued.
“Protecting life and moving people to safety remains our top priority and today I directed the Florida Department of Transportation to suspend tolls as needed to keep traffic flowing,” Scott said in a news release. “If there is an evacuation order in a county, all tolls will be suspended in that county.”
The Florida Department of Transportation is keeping track of traffic counters in South and Central Florida as it prepares for the storm’s effects, Scott’s office said.
Here’s more from the governor’s office on the latest efforts to prepare roads for Hurricane Matthew:
• FDOT construction: All state projects on interstates, limited-access facilities, coastal and evacuation routes have been stopped. Contractors are securing equipment and removing all unnecessary barricades, signs and drums.
• Flooding: FDOT is monitoring flood-prone areas and will work with county emergency operations centers to coordinate any necessary response.
• Intracoastal bridges: In Palm Beach County, they will be locked down by 8 p.m. Wednesday. During lock-down, the bridge is closed, power turned off and the traffic arms may be removed.
UPDATE: American and Allegiant airlines have canceled some flights as Florida braces for Hurricane Matthew.
In addition, a JetBlue spokesperson said the airline will begin rolling out cancellations for Thursday and Friday flights in some Florida cities starting Wednesday night. To see if your flight has been canceled, go to http://www.jetblue.com.
American Airlines has canceled all flights scheduled to arrive at South Florida airports Thursday, the company said Wednesday.
All American flights into Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach International Airport are canceled; in addition, American Airlines will have limited departures from those three airports until noon tomorrow, with departures after noon canceled.
The airline plans to resume reduced operations to the three airports beginning at 8 a.m. Friday, the company said, with flights should be fully operational by noon that day.
In addition to the flights canceled by American, Allegiant has canceled the following flights scheduled to arrive or depart Fort Lauderdale on Thursday:
• To Fort Lauderdale: 1204 from Asheville, N.C.; 1711 from Ogdensburg, N.Y.; 1703 from Lexington, Ky.; 1701 from Plattsburgh, N.Y.; 1721 from Syracuse, N.Y.; 1719 from Columbus/Rickenbacker, Ohio; 1217 from Knoxville, Tenn.
• From Fort Lauderdale: 1205 to Asheville, N.C.; 1710 to Ogdensburg, N.Y.; 1702 to Lexington, Ky.; 1700 to Plattsburgh, N.Y.; 1720 to Syracuse, N.Y.; 1718 to Columbus/Rickbenbacker, Ohio; 1216 to Knoxville, Tenn.
American Airlines and Allegiant — along with many other carriers — has issued travel waivers for its South Florida flights affected by Hurricane Matthew. Click here for more information.
American Airlines also has canceled its flights into and out of Orlando International Airport after 5:30 p.m. Thursday, the company said. American flights will be canceled through Friday, with limited service beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, the company said.
At Jacksonville International Airport, American Airlines will have limited operations beginning Friday morning, with all American flights into and out of that airport canceled for the rest of the day and resuming Saturday.
Dozens of other flights into the area were canceled Wednesday.