Come Friday, commuters can put their days of fiddling between seat cushions for coins behind them.
Cash will no longer be accepted at toll booths along the Massachusetts Turnpike. Instead, drivers will be charged by the state’s new all-electronic tolling system as they pass under gantries placed at 16 locations along I-90. The gantries will assess tolls as they read E-Z Pass transponders, or if one is not detected it will take a photo of a license plate and bill the driver later.
The switch should make for a safer and faster drive for Boston-area commuters often stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, in part due to slowdowns at the highway’s tollbooths.
Drivers will be able to cruise beneath the gantries at highway speeds and won’t ever again have to slow for tolls—at least eventually.
Until the state Department of Transportation demolishes the old-school tollbooths along the Mass Pike, commuters will endure continued slowdowns at tolling locations and traffic jams from construction.
“The toll demolition and road reconstruction projects beginning on Oct. 28 will impact travel for motorists along I-90, (the Massachusetts Turnpike), and drivers are encouraged to slow down in these active construction areas, consider traveling at off-peak hours, and evaluate whether mass transit might be a preferred option,” state Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin said.
During the first 30 days of construction, drivers will be limited to speeds of 15 miles per hour as crews work to demolish the center lanes at all 26 toll plazas. Once that is done, the speed limit will increase.
Demolition is expected to be completed in October 2017.
With no tollbooths, the state is poised to save about $50 million a year, but don’t expect to see that savings reflected in toll prices – for the most part, they’re staying the same.
The state will levy about the same amount in tolls as it did this past year, but drivers could see in impact—for better or worse—on their wallets.
The toll gantries are not necessarily located in the same place as the toll booths they are replacing. So some drivers could be paying a little more or a little less for their daily commute.
Drivers headed from New York into Boston will now pay 65 cents less per trip, or about $5.95. But Boston commuters headed to the Copley-Prudential Exit from West Newton will see their rate increase from $1 to $1.70 per trip.
How much will you pay? check the Mass Turnpike toll calculator.
Drivers who have out-of-state transponders and those who don’t get an E-Z Pass will also pay more and Mass DOT will tack on an additional 60-cent processing fee for all pay-by-plate commuters.
Eventually the switch will pay off in same way for all commuters, either by saving a few minutes or a few cents, officials promised.
Until then, drivers can always take the T.