The Massachusetts Department of Transportation announced plans to eliminate cash tolls on the Tobin Bridge and collect the money electronically instead, starting next year.
MassDOT said toll booths on the bridge will be replaced with overhead sensors, which will scan a car's E-ZPass unit, linked to a debit or credit card. Spokeswoman Sara Lavoie told the Boston Globe the system will save drivers time.
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"This is electronic, open-road; there’s no barrier at all," Lavoie said. "You can go the speed of the highway, you don’t have to slow down or stop at all."
Cameras will record each car's license plate, and those that don't have E-ZPasses will get a bill in the mail.
Similar changes are planned for tolls collected on the Massachusetts Turnpike and at tunnels near Boston's Logan International Airport.
Switching to electronic tolls on the Tobin Bridge will cost $1.7 million. Another $120 million will be spent for changes to the Mass Pike and tunnels.
Transportation Secretary Richard Davey said the system will eventually save the state $50 million a year, primarily due to lower labor costs. An estimated 300 to 350 MassDOT workers will lose their jobs, about 75 percent of the state's toll takers.
"Obviously, we don’t want to displace employees. They’ve done nothing wrong. Technology has just caught up to them," Davey told the Globe.
MassDOT will hold public meetings on the North Shore over the next month to get feedback on the plan.
E-ZPass transponders are available for free online, and at 20 Registry of Motor Vehicles locations and 17 AAA offices statewide.
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