Traffic congestion here in the Hub is horrible, so horrible it’s the 10th worst in the United States. If Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Richard Davey has his way, however, highways across the state will be freeing up thanks to open-road electronic toll collection.
The new technology will first be seen by the end of 2013 as a pilot on the Tobin Bridge, according to WBZ. If all goes well, Davey said they could be fully rolling it out on the Tobin early next year, and then start spreading throughout the state—hopefully by mid-2015.
Although open road tolling will cost anywhere from $60 to $80 million to install, the technology should pay for itself in less than a year and a half. Davey told WBZ the state spends “somewhere between $35 and $50 million a year just on collection costs,” and those costs boil primarily down to personnel.
Because open road tolling doesn’t require toll booths, toll collectors won’t be necessary either, meaning MassDOT will be out 350 employees.
The congestion problem, however, will see a significant improvement.
The speed limit for drivers at EZPass toll booths is 15 miles per hour, which Davey acknowledged is not fast.
“Being able to pay at speed, going at 65 miles an hour, 45 miles an hour, should save folks time and congestion and, frankly, aggravation,” Davey told WBZ.
Where the electronic readers will be installed is yet to be determined, but Davey said he doubts they will go where the toll booths are today. As he explained to WBZ:
Having toll booths at interchanges is crazy because it slows down traffic. I think what we’re probably going to do is more distance-based fare pricing in the future, that being, there’s a gantry every 15 or 20 miles on the Turnpike, not at the exits like today.
If all goes well, perhaps a car could, one day, be winning the Rush Hour Race.
Photo Courtesy of Greater City: Providence