10News by Noah Pransky
August 1, 2018
TAMPA BAY, Fla. — New documents obtained by 10Investigates reveal FDOT’s internal plan to clear its massive backlog of SunPass toll transactions won’t have customers’ accounts up-to-date until sometime in September, which would take the now-62-day disruption past the 100-day mark.
The discovery, only turned over to 10Investigates this week in response to a mid-June public records request, was contained in an internal email between high-level FDOT executives and consultants tasked with fixing a botched systems upgrade that was originally supposed to be completed between June 6 and 11.
FDOT officials have failed to answer many of 10Investigates’ questions over the past two months, instead choosing to communicate largely through optimistic press releases. A spokesperson repeatedly said the agency did not know when it might clear its backlog of tolls, which at one point approached 200 million.
The records also indicated why FDOT may not be processing its backlog faster. Executives expressed concern about unexpected charges hitting customers’ accounts all at once, which could create overdraft fees for some customers.
FDOT reports reducing its backlog by more than 50 million tolls in the last 10 days, but an estimated 139 million tolls — more than a month’s worth — remain in the backlog, creating headaches for consumers who need updated accounts to file expense reports, need to budget their finances, and who are unable to verify the accuracy of month-old charges.
It’s not just Florida reporters and drivers unable to get answers from FDOT; several lawmakers have vented to 10Investigates about their inability to get updates on SunPass problems.
Among them: State Rep. Kristin Jacobs (D-Coconut Creek), a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee, who sent a letter to FDOT Secretary Mike Dew on Wednesday, her third in the last two weeks.