With budgets slashed, fewer Road Rangers on highways

Aug 13, 2008

DIANA MOSKOVITZ

Miami Herald


Fewer Road Rangers are officially helping motorists in trouble on some of Miami-Dade's busiest highways.
Starting earlier this month, there were fewer rangers on the Palmetto Expressway and none on Interstate 75 in Miami-Dade, said Monica Savits, president of Anchor Towing, which covers the Palmetto and I-75 in Miami-Dade.

The cutbacks came as state lawmakers halved the rangers' budget from $21 million to $11 million, one of many made in a tight fiscal year.

But it hasn't helped that the number of crashes and stranded motorists hasn't improved. Which means Savits' Road Rangers are trying to provide the same level of help -- but with fewer rangers on the road.

'Their work load has definitely been increasing as they each try to cover more roads,' she said. ``It's been tough.'

SERVICE CUTS

Here are the changes, Savits said:

No rangers on I-75 in Miami-Dade.

On weekdays, the Palmetto Expressway will go from six to four ranger trucks. Three will run 24 hours and one will run 16 hours.

On weekends, the Palmetto will have three trucks that run 12 hours during the day. There will be no trucks overnight.

Some Miami-Dade highways are spared the knife.

Interstate 95 still has 24-hour Road Rangers because of ongoing construction.

And local tolls roads, such as State Road 836, are keeping their rangers because those are paid for with toll revenues, not state money.

In Broward County, the rangers don't expect to make any cuts until Oct. 1.

Originally, the Miami-Dade changes were scheduled to start in July. They were pushed back after officials with the Florida Department of Transportation District 6, which includes Miami-Dade, decided to stop having rangers carry spare fuel for drivers who run out.

The move saved enough money to keep Miami-Dade's rangers at full strength a little longer. The cutbacks in rangers started Aug. 1.

POTENTIAL SPONSORS

The cuts are here to stay, unless more money comes in from a private sponsor. Savits said there are ongoing talks with potential sponsors, but they aren't anticipating a contract anytime soon.

'A few things are kicking around,' Savits said. ``But nothing is cemented.'




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