Reporting Joe Shortsleeve
BOSTON (CBS) – Open Road Tolling could finally be a reality here in Massachusetts. That means no more slowing down to pay the toll. The changes come at a cost: hundreds of jobs.
The new plan will put 410 toll takers out of work. The state plans to spend $11 million in retirement and layoff packages, all to put Open Road Tolling in place by 2015 and possibly expand tolls to highways that are now free.
That is the scary part. The Governor would not rule out new tolls on roads that currently don’t have them. But for now they are just focused on replacing all the tolls with overhead readers. And that is not a wish. That is going to happen.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Bernice Corpuz reports
Open Road Tolling, as it is called, is already in place at the Hampton and Hooksett tolls in New Hampshire.
It will be on the Tobin Bridge a year from now and then spread to the airport tunnels and beyond.
Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey says, “People can pay at speeds of 65 miles an hour not at 15 or 20 like they do today so it reduces congestion so we think it is a good idea.”
The Governor says it is a smart decision.
“We have been looking at it for some time,” says Governor Patrick. “We have a good plan coming together. I think it is going to save us some money and make the use of the highways more convenient.”
And you better have a transponder, if you don’t; the Open Road Tolling system Massachusetts is considering will take a picture of a car’s license plate and send a bill to the owner’s home with an additional fee.
As for the toll collectors, the Patrick Administration has been negotiating with the union for over a year now; some will be offered other jobs, but not all.
Patrick described it this way.
“We are going to make as dignified and as soft a landing as possible those people.”
Drivers say they will not miss the toll booths.
“I think you have to go for efficiency,” says one driver. “If it works well then you should do it.”
“It is a cost saving for them and it is faster for us.”
But drivers will not like this part. The Governor would not rule out installing an Open Road Tolling system on Route 93.
In the meantime, the current system he is considering will cost $100 million to install. He says it will pay for itself in three years.