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Cashless Tolling On TZB Is Delayed One Day

Tolls are going cashless at the TZB.
Tolls are going cashless at the TZB.

Plans to begin all cashless tolls on the Tappan Zee Bridge have been pushed back one day because of inclement weather forecast for tonight.

The Tappan Zee Bridge was set to go all cashless April 23, but Mother Nature has April showers in store forcing a 24-delay. Jennifer Givner is spokeswoman for the New York State Thruway Authority.

“The Thruway Authority is pushing back our cashless tolling activation one night due to the forecasted rain for this evening,” Givner says. “So instead of activating Friday into Saturday night, we’re pushing it back for Saturday evening into Sunday morning.”

In other words, by 12:01 a.m. Sunday, the bridge that connects Rockland and Westchester Counties will start cashless tolling, an overhead system on the Rockland side. Again, Givner.

“The toll plazas will still be there on the Westchester County side. And so what we’re asking motorists to do is to slow down as they travel through the unstaffed lanes. They’ll be marked at 20 miles-per-hour. You won’t have to stop to pay a toll but for safety reasons we do ask that motorists slow down until we’re able to dismantle them. And they’ll be entirely removed within the coming months.”

And she speaks to why rain is hampering the start.

“So the forecasted rain for this evening causes some trouble for us on the construction side because there are a number of activities that go along with the cashless tolling activation. Our team basically was ready this evening. We had some road striping, which is the repainting of lines, to help motorists, guide them through the traffic patterns. That’s not able to be done when there’s rain,” says Givner. “Additionally, we have to uncover a lot of the signage, again, which is going to help guide motorists. We’re not able to do that in the rain for safety reasons, so pushing back a night, forecast for tomorrow is for no rain, we should be able to take of it.”

Cashless tolling, also known as all-electronic toll collection, allows motorists to pay their tolls at highway speeds without slowing down or stopping. They can pay either through E-ZPass or Tolls By Mail. The cash toll is $5. The new Tappan Zee set to open in 2018 also will have cashless tolling. The Thruway Authority put together a video explaining cashless tolling, including what happens if a driver does not have an E-ZPass.

“If you don’t have E-ZPass, the other option is tolls by mail. This takes the place of the cash toll booth lanes and lets you stay at highway speed as well. As your vehicle passes under the overhead equipment, cameras photograph your vehicle’s license plate and a bill is automatically sent to the registered owner by U.S. mail.”

The Tappan Zee will become the first all cashless tolling facility on the Thruway, which has some high-speed E-ZPass lanes elsewhere. The Henry Hudson Bridge in New York City, which is under the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, has had cashless tolling since 2012. One widely reported issue at the Henry Hudson is the number of drivers who do not have E-ZPass, receive toll bills by mail and choose to ignore the letters. Givner points to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s January announcement about new penalties against chronic toll evaders. Those who fail to pay five tolls and associated charges resulting from violations on different days within an 18-month period will have their registration suspended by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles.

State Senator David Carlucci, an Independent Democrat who advocated for addressing chronic toll evasion, says going cashless on the Tappan Zee is the way of the future. He agrees that it should reduce traffic congestion and, with less idling at a toll booth, be beneficial for the environment.

“More importantly is now we have a toll freeze on the Tappan Zee Bridge, which will be in place until 2020, and that gives us time to work on a resident discount for Rockland and Westchester residents. That’s the most important thing,” says Carlucci. “When we talk about tolls and we talk about the new bridge, we could have a nice, big, beautiful bridge but, if can’t afford to cross it, that will crush our economy.”

Meanwhile, all 60 Tappan Zee Bridge toll workers, full and part time, have been reassigned. About 140,000 drivers cross the bridge daily, 80 percent of whom use E-Zpass. Some 25 million toll-paying trips were taken over the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2015.