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Commuters Curious Why All Lanes Aren't Fast Lanes

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(credit: harvardsquare.com)

(credit: harvardsquare.com)

Commuters Curious Why All Lanes Aren't Fast LanesWBZ

When the Eagles said “life in the fast lane will surely make you lose your mind”, they weren’t singing about the Mass Pike. Or were they?

We have heard from a number of Fast Lane users who complain about being stuck in toll traffic while cash drivers zip through.

Elizabeth in Webster Declared her Curiosity:

“I’m curious why Fast Lane users are forced into a bottle neck? Why isn’t Fast Lane accepted at every toll lane?”

A WBZ team went out bright and early Monday morning to the Weston tolls and saw the same thing: cars going very slowly over the word “Fast” painted on the pavement. Cash drivers, however, were moving swiftly.

The problem is popularity. So many people use the Fast Lane, about 65 percent of regular Pike users, that it is sometimes the slowest lane.

WBZ photographer Chris Gobeille said he sees it every day. “The Fast Lane is booked solid. And people get in the cash lane and they cruise right through,” he said. “I think all the lanes should be Fast Lane. And if you have cash, you pay cash.”

Ralph Boartfield, a commuter from Southboro, wonders why other states have combo lanes that take transponders and cash, but not Massachusetts. “You drive right through in New York. All the lanes are Fast Lane. Pick one. Doesn’t matter and it’s just easy.”

Often times when something doesn’t make sense in this state, the explanation you get is: “it’s about the money”. We spoke to Department of Transportation officials Monday who said, surprise; this issue is about the money.

“It would cost $40,000 to retrofit each booth and that’s more than 100 booths,” said DOT Highway Administrator Luisa Paiewonsky.

Do the math, and the million dollar question has a $4 million answer.

Paiewonsky said it’s not a question of whether the tool booths can be changed. The technology exists. “The question is whether it’s a wise investment,” she said.

Governor Deval Patrick has made it pretty clear that the Mass Pike toll booths may not exist in the future. They could be scrapped for a pay-on-the-fly, entirely electronic system.

That means, at least for now, the state has no plans to retrofit the existing toll booths.

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