TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation is waiving tolls at several locations in advance of Hurricane Ian.
The following tolls are being temporarily waived:
- Garcon Point Bridge.
- Spence Parkway.
- Mid-Bay Bridge.
- Polk Parkway.
- Suncoast Parkway.
- Veterans Expressway.
- I-4 Connector, Selmon Expressway.
- Pinellas Bayway.
- Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
- Alligator Alley.
The Sunshine State has also waived hours of service regulations for commercial vehicles due to the storm.
Hurricane Ian tore into western Cuba as a major hurricane Tuesday, Sept. 27, leaving 1 million people without electricity, then churned on a collision course with Florida over warm Gulf waters expected to strengthen it into a catastrophic Category 4 storm.
Ian made landfall early Tuesday in Cuba’s Pinar del Rio province, where officials set up 55 shelters, evacuated 50,000 people, rushed in emergency personnel and took steps to protect crops in the nation’s main tobacco-growing region. The U.S. National Hurricane Center said Cuba suffered “significant wind and storm surge impacts” when the hurricane struck with sustained top winds of 125 mph.
Ian was expected to get even stronger over the warm Gulf of Mexico, reaching top winds of 130 mph as it approaches the southwest coast of Florida, where 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate.
Tropical storm-force winds were expected across the southern peninsula late Tuesday, reaching hurricane-force Wednesday — when the hurricane’s eye was predicted to make landfall. With tropical storm-force winds extending 115 miles from Ian’s center, damage was expected across a wide area of Florida.
There was still uncertainty over precisely where Ian would crash onshore, and its exact track could determine how severe the storm surge is for Tampa Bay, said University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy. Landfall south of the bay could make the impact “much less bad,” McNoldy said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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