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Monday, January 26, 2015


Did you know the Founding Fathers left road building largely in the hands of the states and local municipalities? They believed locals could better maintain their roadways and so provided no federal mechanism for funding or constructing them. As a result, by the time Henry Ford began the mass production of vehicles that led to America's love of both cars and traveling the open road, cities and states were designing all kinds of signals and signs to direct traffic around urban areas. There were no recognized standards. The first stop sign was a white rectangle with black letters, not the red octagon we are familiar with today. Most signals had only green and red lights and a buzzer to warn the color was changing, not a yellow light. Police officers stood in the middle of the intersections and manually changed the signals from green to red. It took state transportation officials banding together to begin providing continuity. Eventually, signs and signals would be the same whether you were in Salt Lake City or Atlantic City.

Things evolved that way with electronic toll collection. Each state picked a system suited to its needs at the time, with the price of installation and maintenance near the top of the list in importance. Toll Tag, the first electronic toll system in the U.S., was installed in Texas in 1989. In the mid '90s New York and New Jersey got on the same page with E-ZPass because they were just across the river from one another and traffic continually traveled back and forth on a myriad bridges and tunnels. California picked an entirely different system, as did Washington State. When the Florida Department of Transportation was ready to begin electronic collection, we picked the technology that became SunPass.

Twenty years ago, there was no reason to believe a driver in Texas would need or want to use his Toll Tag in Massachusetts. In major urban areas, most toll traffic was locals going to and from work. Commuters had replaced the long distance travelers that made up the majority of the traffic on the legacy turnpikes in the '50s, '60s and '70s.

Florida remains the most popular tourist destination in the US, however, and we have thousands of motorists coming from the Atlanta and Raleigh/Durham areas--for football games, to visit family or the tourist attractions and beaches. Floridians are traveling to vacation spots in Georgia and North Carolina. It makes sense for us to allow our respective customers to use their own transponders when traveling nearby for day or weekend trips and longer vacations.

Florida just became interoperable with Georgia; we can use our SunPass on Atlanta's Express Lanes and they can use their Peach Pass here in the Sunshine State. Last summer, we began accepting Quick Pass from North Carolina. We are also working with other nearby states on becoming interoperable very soon. We have had some requests by winter residents to be able to use their E-ZPass here in Florida, but until recently, SunPass customers had shown little interest in using their transponders outside the Sunshine State. That is changing.

Meanwhile, on the larger stage, the federal initiative Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21 Century (MAP-21) mandates that all toll systems in the U.S. will be interoperable by October 2016.

That requires all of the agencies complete a lot of work in a short time. Thirty-five states have toll roads, bridges, tunnels or causeways. Our friends farther north in Ontario are also interested in interoperability.

We must make all of the different existing technologies "talk" to each other without requiring every state to change to one type of toll protocol, which would run into billions of dollars. Business rules must be established that include such things as the number of times per day active account data is exchanged and the timeframe for reconciling transactions and income for each agency. Most important, however, is ensuring that SunPass customers receive equal and fair treatment when traveling on other state's toll facilities without being charged higher tolls or service fees.

Also, we are participating in a national effort to develop universal signage that will tell you where your SunPass is accepted--whether you are traveling on the Capitol Beltway or the Golden Gate Bridge.

Another step in readying Florida for nationwide interoperability is our ongoing SunPass Tag Swap program. If you have received a postcard from SunPass and have not taken advantage of the opportunity to get a new transponder, I urge you to do so as soon as possible. Call 1-855-TAG SWAP (1-855-824-7927) or visitwww.sunpasstagswap.com. Once you have your new interoperable-ready transponder, please take a minute to review that your SunPass account is up to date by going to www.SunPass.com.

With gratitude,

Diane Gutierrez-Scaccetti
Executive Director

Reposted from http://www.floridasturnpike.com/sunpassages/14.fall/steering-column.html


 
Thursday, January 22, 2015

It’s 2015 and Fort Lauderdale is proving, more than ever, that it is truly a top notch city filled with culture, entertainment, and fun for the entire family.  Here are just a few of our picks for some fun events happening this weekend throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale.  We hope you are inspired to experience some of these – and other – great things happening around our beautiful city!   

The finest young talent in South Florida is performing at The Bonnet House & Museum’s “Young Artist Music Series” throughout the winter season. The next presentation of the series is tonight, January 22, from 7-9pm. The evening's activities take place in and around the estate house with the concert taking place on the veranda lawn beneath the moon and stars. Sweet music, balmy starlit nights, and the setting of the beautiful Bonnet House & Museum (900 N. Birch Road) combine for a truly unique experience.  The Concert Under the Stars series includes complimentary wine, dessert and coffee (sponsored by Whole Foods Market) with the price of admission.

The legendary singer Michael Bolton will be at the Hard Rock Live (1 Seminole Way, Hollywood) on January 23rd to perform his greatest hits including “When a Man Loves A Woman”, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You”, and “I Said I Love You, but I Lied”.  $1 from each ticket goes to Michael Bolton Charities, which support various women’s and children’s charitable organizations benefiting victims of poverty and abuse, both emotional and physical.  Enjoy the evening’s performance and support these admirable causes.  The show begins at 8pm and tickets start at $45.

January 23-24, bring the children (Grades K-2) to The Bailey Concert Hall & Fine Arts Theater (3501 Davie Road, Fort Lauderdale) to experience a wonderful musical stage production of “The Rainbow Fish”, the famous children's story by Marcus Pfister. As the story goes, The Rainbow Fish is the most beautiful fish in the ocean because of her shiny scales, but she learns the true meaning of beauty when she shares her scales with others.  The show starts at 10am both Friday & Saturday.

Fort Lauderdale gets in on the laughter when the worlds #1 name in comedy comes to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW 5th Avenue) on January 23!  The Second City takes on all the news that's fit to twist, featuring hilarious sketches, songs and improvisations about the biggest headlines and hot-button issues in South Florida. And it is all served up with a satirical side of that famous Chicago-style brand of Improv.  Don't miss your chance to see the superstars of tomorrow live on stage when The Second City Hits Home!  The show starts at 7:30pm and tickets are just $39!

January 24th is Tri-Rail’s “Rail Fun Day”.  From 11am-3pm at the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport Tri-Rail Station in Dania Beach (500 Gulfstream Way), the “Rail Fun Day” will offer a FREE, fun-filled afternoon for the entire family. South Florida families will have a chance to meet Tri-Rail’s mascot Conductor George Green, participate in cookie decorating with Winn-Dixie and interactive games from the Miami Marlins, South Florida Parenting and more. Prizes, giveaways and activities will be provided courtesy of Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Fort Lauderdale Children’s Theatre, Museum of Discovery & Science and many more. Ride the train to the event with roundtrip fares for just $5, in addition to free rides for kids 12 and under (on this day only).  Plus, you can see eleven young stars under 17 will show off their singing talents as they compete in the “South Florida’s Kids Got Talent” competition and vie for the $500 grand prize.

January 25th will be the last day to experience “Amaluna, presented by Cirque du Soleil” at Sun Life Stadium (2269 Dan Marino Blvd). Amaluna invites the audience to a mysterious island governed by Goddesses and guided by the cycles of the moon. Their queen, Prospera, directs her daughter's coming-of-age ceremony in a rite that honors femininity, renewal, rebirth and balance which marks the passing of these insights and values from one generation to the next. In the wake of a storm caused by Prospera, a group of young men washes ashore, triggering an epic and emotional story of love between Prospera's daughter and a brave young suitor. But theirs is a love that will be put to the test and the couple must face numerous demanding trials before they can achieve mutual trust, faith and harmony. Amaluna (the name of this mysterious island) is a fusion of the words ama, which refers to "mother" in many languages, and luna, which means "moon"; a symbol of femininity that evokes both the mother-daughter relationship and the idea of goddess and protector of the planet.  It is a tribute to the work and voice of women, and for the first time in Cirque du Soleil's history, features a cast that comprises 70% women, with a 100% all-female band.  Admission is $45.

Now through February 1st, you can experience the phenomenon that is The Lion King! The most eagerly awaited stage production ever will leap onto the Au-Rene Theatre stage at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts (201 SW 5th Avenue). Visually stunning, technically astounding and with a musical score like none you've ever heard. Giraffes strut, birds swoop, and gazelles leap. The entire savannah comes to life and as the music soars, Pride Rock slowly emerges from the mist. See the Tony® Award-winning Broadway sensation that Newsweek calls "a landmark event in entertainment." The New York Times says, "There is simply nothing else like it." Marvel at the breathtaking spectacle of animals brought to life by a cast of more than 40 actors. Wonder at the inspiration of award-winning director Julie Taymor, who created visual images for this show that you'll remember forever. Thrill to the pulsating rhythms of the African Pridelands and an unforgettable score including Elton John and Tim Rice's Oscar®-winning song "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "Circle of Life."  Showtimes for the run vary, and tickets range from $34.75 to $149.75.  If you are a fan of the theater, you won’t want to miss this show!

Be sure to check in with us often as we share the many events Fort Lauderdale has to offer each week.  And to learn more about our great city - or for information on Fort Lauderdale Real Estate - visit us at www.gayleborden.com or call The Gayle Borden Group at 954.525.3355.  


 
Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Home Resolutions

If your New Year’s resolutions include saving money, we've got four great ways for you to achieve your goals:

Refinance

If you haven’t yet refinanced your mortgage or home equity loan to take advantage of today’s low interest rates, there’s still time to lock in a great deal. Jay Brinkmann, chief economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, expects mortgage rates to rise to 4.8 percent in 2015, and to 5.4 percent by the end of 2016. 

If your current mortgages exceed your home’s value, you may still be able to refinance using one of the federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program.

Change Your Furnace Filters

New Year’s resolutions don’t get much easier than vowing to change your HVAC filter once a month in 2015 to increase your furnace’s life span. To make this task easy, buy 12 filters and store them in the furnace room so they’re at hand when you need them. Put a reminder on your calendar, or tie this chore to another monthly chore, like paying your household bills, so you remember to do it each month. 

Seal Those Home Air Leaks 

Sealing the air leaks in your home is one of the most cost-effective ways to cut your utility bills. Check to make sure your windows are caulked around the outside of the trim on the inside, and outside, of your home. Use foam to fill large gaps where the plumbing, electric or cable comes in the house.

Shop Your Insurance Policies

Yes, it’s a bother to shop for insurance, but if you haven’t checked what’s out there lately, you may be overpaying. The easiest way to get this chore done is to delegate. Copy the declarations pages from your current home, auto, life and umbrella policies, and ask an independent insurance agent to look for a better overall deal for you.

You can also visit your current agent, or call your insurance company and ask for an annual review to make sure you've got the right coverage and are getting all the discounts for which you qualify.

If you need a referral to a good insurance agent, mortgage loan officer or home handyperson, please contact me.

 

 


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