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Pa. Turnpike to Eliminate Toll Plazas, Cash Payments

Plans are in the works to get rid of toll plazas and make the Pennsylvania Turnpike all electronic.

Officials are planning a dramatic conversion of the Pennsylvania Turnpike to all electronic tolling with no more toll plazas or cash payments in about five years.

Turnpike Commission officials told state lawmakers that the project is the most ambitious of its kind in the nation.

Instead of driving through toll plazas, vehicles will pass beneath sensors that will automatically deduct tolls from E-Z Pass accounts or photograph license plates so a bill can be sent to the owner.

In July, the commission hired a contractor—HNTB Corp., a Missouri company with five offices including one in Harrisburg—to move forward with the plans to convert to an all-electronic tolling system that would eliminate the use of cash along the 545-mile route, according to a Pennlive.com report.

It costs more than $67 million a year to staff toll plazas and that cost is projected to rise to $77 million by 2014. 

Meanwhile, turnpike tolls will increase in January:

  • 10 percent more for cash customers
  • 2 percent more for E-Z Pass customers
  • New rates start January 6

The last time tolls went up was January 2011.

The commission says the change will hike toll revenue 3 percent to fulfill a $450 million funding obligation to the state.

Jeff Lugar November 22, 2012 at 10:03 PM
Wow, Jim, your life must be so incredible that people must be dying to track you. Seriously, even if the data were stored and someone looked at it, knowing you got on at interchange x and off at interchange y hardly gives away where you were coming from and where you were going to. And there's video taken at cash lanes, too, so if they really want to track you so badly it would just take a little longer and some OCR software to read a license plate. And so what if they did track you? What are you doing that's so terrible that if your turnpike travel data sat in a computer somewhere that it's some awful thing? Anytime someone complains they need anonymity so badly it makes me suspicious of that person, not a government agency.
Capt. Obvious November 23, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Jeff, try and think outside the box a bit. Why does ezpass only have to be tracked on the turnpike? It may only be billed there, but anyone who pays can put up a sensor anywhere they like, and track everyone who passes it. Shopping center. Mall. That naughty little novelty store you stopped in 'just to look'. Maybe you were supposed to be at work, but you called out and said you were sick. (I can go on and on, based on what some people do on a regular basis) Do you want everywhere you really were that day to be available to whoever pays the monthly fee for the info? I sure don't. While I don't really have anything to hide, I don't think it's anyone's business but my own where I go and when. THAT alone is reason enough to not want it.
Capt. Obvious November 23, 2012 at 07:26 PM
oh, here's one.... what if I could hack the system, and find out you are out of the house from x to y every day, or 100 miles away on vacation. Hope you have a good home security system.
CyD252 November 24, 2012 at 04:53 AM
If you're really concerned about such a scenario, then simply wrap your transmitter in aluminum foil (or drop it in an aluminum-lined pouch) when you're not planning on going on the turnpike.
wayne January 13, 2013 at 11:15 AM
I agree, Maria. In Willow Grove, I have seen the backup stem from the fact that 611 North cannot handle the traffic load coming off the turnpike. Many times, the traffic is backed up AFTER the toll booths.

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