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.
A travel waiver typically allows passengers to change their flights with little to no penalty. The waiver offered varies depending on the airline. For information regarding a specific flight, contact your airline.
Here’s the list of travel waivers in effect. This list will be updated as more waivers are announced.
Waiver benefits: No change fee for eligible flights.
Where the waiver is in effect: Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Key West, Melbourne, Miami, Orlando and West Palm Beach.
You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 4; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 5-7; you can travel Oct. 5-12; and you don’t change your origin or destination.
Where the waiver is in effect: Augusta and Savannah, Ga.; Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro, Greenville, New Bern, Raleigh/Durham, Richlands and Wilmington, N.C.; Columbia, Charleston, Florence, Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach, S.C.
You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 4; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 5-9; you can travel Oct. 5-14; and you don’t change your origin or destination.
Where the waiver is in effect: Cienfuegos, Cuba; Holguín, Cuba; Santa Clara, Cuba; Cap-Haïtien, Haiti; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos Islands.
You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Oct. 1; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 1-6; you can travel Sept. 3o – Oct. 9; and you don’t change your origin or destination.
Where the waiver is in effect: Eleuthera, Exuma, Freeport / Grand Bahama, Marsh Harbour and Nassau.
You are eligible for the waiver if you are traveling on an American Airlines flight purchased before Sept. 30; you’re scheduled to travel Oct. 2-7; you can travel Sept. 30-Oct. 11; and you don’t change your origin or destination.
Waiver benefits: Receive one itinerary change; rules and restrictions regarding standard change fees, advance purchase, day or time applications, blackouts, and minimum or maximum stay requirements will be waived. Also, travellers on eligible flights may request a refund.
Where the waiver is in effect: Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and St. Augustine.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were originally scheduled to fly Oct. 5-8 and purchased your ticket on or before Oct. 4. Travel on rescheduled flight must be completed by Oct. 29.
Waiver benefits: No change/cancel fees and waived fare differences for eligible flights.
Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, S.C.; Raleigh/Durham, N.C.; Savannah/Hilton Head, Ga.; and Daytona Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 5-9 and booked your flight on or before Oct. 4. You may rebook from now through Oct. 18, before your originally scheduled flight was set to depart.
Where the waiver is in effect: Kingston, Jamaica; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Nassau, Bahamas; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Providenciales, Turks and Caicos; Santa Clara, Cuba.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were supposed to fly from Oct. 2-6 and booked your flight on or before Sept. 30. You may rebook from now through Oct. 10, before your originally scheduled flight was set to depart.
Waiver benefits: No additional charge for rebooking for eligible flights.
Where the waiver is in effect: Charleston, S.C.; and Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Orlando and West Palm Beach.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 4-8 and rebook in the same class as originally scheduled within 14 days of the original date of travel between the same originating city and destination.
Where the waiver is in effect: Montego Bay and Nassau.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Sept. 30-Oct. 5 for Montego Bay and Oct. 2-7 for Nassau, and rebook in the same class as originally scheduled within 14 days of the original date of travel between the same originating city and destination.
Waiver benefits: No modification charge/fare difference for eligible flights.
Where the waiver is in effect: Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 6-7, and rebook your flight before Oct. 14. After Oct. 14, the modification charge still will be waived, but a fare difference will apply.
Where the waiver is in effect: Myrtle Beach, S.C.
You are eligible for the waiver if you were scheduled to fly Oct. 7-8, and rebook your flight before Oct. 14. After Oct. 14, the modification charge still will be waived, but a fare difference will apply.
The airline has canceled a slew of flights into and out of Fort Lauderdale, Orlando and Sanford. Those flights will be rescheduled, and passengers on the affected flights will be contacted via email, Allegiant said. Check here for updates.
One-way tickets to Aruba start at $99. The airline already offers flights to Aruba from New York and Boston.
“Of Aruba’s total 1.22 million stay-over visitors in 2015, we welcomed a 7.7 percent increase in U.S. travelers,” Aruba Tourism Minister Otmar Oduber said in a news release. “As Aruba grows annually, JetBlue remains a valuable partner in accommodating the increased demand for travel to our One happy island — where year-round sunshine, award winning beaches and diverse culture are only the beginning of the Aruba adventure.”
According to JetBlue, the flights will leave Fort Lauderdale at 11:22 a.m., arriving in Aruba at 3:24 p.m. The return flights will depart Aruba at 4:20 p.m. and arrive in Fort Lauderdale at 6:25 p.m.
Four Florida cities are among 10 chosen as possible locations for flights to and from the Cuban capital beginning this fall.
The list of cities was released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Transportation and includes Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, along with Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and New York City.
“Today we take another important step toward delivering on President Obama’s promise to reengage Cuba,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a news release. “Restoring regular air service holds tremendous potential to reunite Cuban American families and foster education and opportunities for American businesses of all sizes.”
Foxx also said eight airlines tentatively have been chosen as carriers for Havana flights: Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airways, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines.
In making the decision on which U.S. cities to include in the proposal, the DOT said it looked for areas with large Cuban-American populations, along with areas that are aviation hubs.
The DOT said 12 U.S. airlines applied to offer service to Havana. The department did not release the names of the four airlines that did not make the cut.
The release of the proposed cities and carriers follows an agreement signed in February between the U.S. and Cuba to open air service between the two countries after more than 50 years. The arragement allows for each country to operate up to 20 roundtrip flights each day between Havana and the U.S.
Those traveling to Cuba must fall under one of 12 categories set by the U.S. government: family visits; official business of the U.S. government, foreign governments and certain intergovernmental organizations; journalistic activity; professional research and professional meetings; educational activities; religious activities; public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions; support for the Cuban people; humanitarian projects; activities of private foundations or research or educational institutes; exportation, importation or transmission of information or information materials; and certain authorized export transactions. Read more here about what you need to travel to Cuba.
The DOT said it will release its final decision later this summer.
On Wednesday, crews will pour the concrete for V-shaped columns that will serve both as structural pillars and architectural signature for the stations. In December, the company tested lighting options for the V columns.
On Wednesday morning, the company will put the first of the 18, 32-feet V columns in place. Each of the columns weighs about 145,000 pounds, the company said.
Brightline’s West Palm Beach station is currently under construction on Evernia Street near the South Rosemary Avenue intersection.
Brightline is scheduled to start service from Miami to West Palm Beach in 2017.