Public Hearings Set on Fully-Electronic Mass Pike Toll Collections
Officials are considering a plan to make toll collections on the Massachusetts Turnpike completely electronic. It's the subject of public hearings in Worcester and Springfield this week.
Toll booths would be torn down and replaced with electronic collection equipment, placed over the main part of the roadway. Drivers would continue at normal highway speeds while using E-Z Passes. If they don't have one ,a picture would be taken of their license plate and a bill would arrive in the mail. State officials estimate it will save 50-million-dollars a year in costs.
Construction is scheduled to begin next year, but the project's future is uncertain. That's because most of the tolls could expire in 2017--if state officials determine the road is in good repair. Frank DePaola is the state's highway administrator. He says the decision will be made by a new governor and a new administration.
"By changing to the electronic toll format, it's much more flexible to either leave these up, take these down, or even begin toll collection at other locations, which we are required to explore as part of the most recent most recent transportation revenue reform package." DePaola, says.
One way or another, there are about 400 toll collectors' jobs that could be eliminated. A spokesperson for Teamsters Local 127, which represents those workers, declined comment, citing ongoing contract negotiations.