The end of tolls as you know them is coming to a major interstate interchange.
Thousands of drivers who use the bridge linking the Pennsylvania Turnpike with New Jersey soon won’t be stopping and won’t even be paying in one direction. But their license plates will be photographed as part of a “toll-by-plate” system.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission plans on installing its first entirely electronic “tollbooth” early next year at the Delaware River Bridge.
“All these tolling changes are required to accommodate the nonstop flow of traffic between Interstate 95 and the Pennsylvania Turnpike,” said Turnpike spokesman Carl Defabo Jr. “Making such a connection with the traditional ‘ticket’ tolling would have meant creating a location where I-95 motorists would stop and get a ticket -- then pay a toll at the existing DRB plaza a few miles down the road. It just didn’t make sense to stop traffic twice.”
The plan, to be instituted in January of 2016, eliminates the DRB tollbooth entirely at milepost 359 near the New Jersey line. The tollbooth will be replaced by the Delaware River Bridge All Electronic Tolling system. Cash won’t be accepted at the electronic tolling point, which will be comprised of twin overhead gantries for westbound motorists. The gantries – steel frames traditionally used for signs over the roadway – will read motorists’ E-ZPass transponders or take a photo of their license plates if they don’t have E-ZPass. The commission will then send a bill for the toll to the motorist.
Once the electronic tolling begins, the start and end point of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission’s trip-based system will move to a different location about six miles to the west. The new Neshaminy Falls Toll Plaza, which is now being constructed at milepost 353, will become the eastern limit of the Turnpike’s ticket system. Tolls also will no longer be collected at the Delaware Valley/US Route 13 Interchange though motorists will still be able to get on and off at the Turnpike/I-276. Tickets also won’t be issued at that location.
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A news release from the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission states travelers can expect the following when the new tolling systems are in place:
Eastbound cash customers will stop at the Neshaminy Falls Toll Plaza to surrender their toll tickets and pay cash. Eastbound E-ZPass customers can proceed through the Neshaminy Falls Toll Plaza at 55 mph via express lanes on the left or via standard 5 mph E-ZPass lanes on the right. At that point, all eastbound customers can either exit at the Delaware Valley Interchange (U.S. Route 13) or cross over the Delaware River Bridge into New Jersey without stopping or paying any additional tolls.
Westbound customers entering Pennsylvania (including E-ZPass and non-E-ZPass customers) will drive at 55 mph beneath the overhead gantries immediately after crossing the Delaware River Bridge from New Jersey. These gantries signify the tolling zone, where all customers pay a flat toll without stopping via E-ZPass or Toll-by-Plate (license-plate billing). From there, all westbound customers can exit at the Delaware Valley Interchange (U.S. Route 13) without stopping or paying an additional toll, or they can continue west on the PA Turnpike to the Neshaminy Falls Toll Plaza, where cash customers will stop at a designated lane to take a toll ticket at the entry point onto the Turnpike’s trip-based system. Westbound E-ZPass customers can proceed through the Neshaminy Falls Toll Plaza at 55 mph via express lanes on the left or via standard 5 mph E-ZPass lanes to the right. The Neshaminy Falls Toll Plaza becomes the entry point onto the Turnpike’s trip-based system for E-ZPass customers as well.
“This is a vital project for the commission and the region and an essential first step in creating a long-awaited direct link between the Turnpike and I-95,” Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission Chairman Sean Logan said. “Along with the Beaver Valley Expressway conversion, it will allow us to gain insight regarding the performance of AET technology and business rules and provide extra time to educate customers about this significant change."
The Turnpike Commission also stated that the 34 current collectors at the transitioning tollbooths will remain on the job -- 26 will go to the new Neshaminy Falls toll while the rest will be reassigned to other toll locations no further than the Valley Forge Interchange.