Florida’s new checkpoints to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state are up and running, with the world turned upside down: cars are being told to go through the weigh station for questions about where their passengers have been, while trucks can blow past the checkpoints.
In the southbound lane on I-95, at the Yulee weigh station, trucks are being told to stay in the left lane, while passenger cars stay right and are checked out at the weigh station, according to Alix Miller, vice president of the Florida Trucking Association.
Miller said the stop on I-95 was opened Sunday. The one at I-10 was also opened sometime over the weekend.
Miller said the stop on I-10 is at the 3.3 mile marker after the road crosses over from Alabama.
“They are both running smoothly,” she said. “We have been working closely with the Florida Department of Transportation and the Florida Highway Patrol. They let us know about this rollout to ensure the smooth passage of freight.”
Trucks heading south on 95 are getting ample warning of the checkpoint and are instructed to move to the left. Passenger cars are then shepherded into the weigh station, where workers ask motorists questions about where they are coming from.
“Trucks are not going through the weigh station,” Miller said. “That’s why they wanted to let us know because it’s so counterintuitive for trucks.”
The fact that there are stops on I-10 and I-95 but not on Interstate 75 is an obvious omission. Miller said the first effort by the state was aimed at identifying people coming from the COVID-19 hot spots of the New York tri-state area and in New Orleans and elsewhere in Louisiana.
The press release from the Florida DOT announcing the program does not indicate that any expansion of the project is planned to include 75. There are other obvious roads into Florida, including U.S. 1/U.S. 301, an alternate route for northeastern residents seeking to avoid the checkpoint.
What truck drivers are missing but motorists are facing, according to Florida DOT, is the filling out of a form. If the form shows a person has been in one of the hot spots, he or she “will be required to isolate for a period of 14 days upon entry to Florida or for the duration of their visit, whichever is shorter, and should be prepared for additional monitoring by Department of Health to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” according to DOT.
“It’s smooth sailing for us,” Miller said. “We’re so appreciative for our state and federal partners to keep the freight moving.”