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Davey: Open-Road Tolling Installed By Mid-2015

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Open road tolls don't require toll booths or toll collectors. (Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

Open road tolls don’t require toll booths or toll collectors. (Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons)

BOSTON (CBS) – Massachusetts Transportation Secretary Richard Davey hopes to have open-road electronic toll collection fully up and running across the state by mid-2015.

Davey told WBZ NewsRadio 1030 Tuesday it will cost $60-to-$80 million to install, but that it will pay for itself in less than a year and a half.

“We spend somewhere between $35 and 50 million a year just on collection costs, (which is) mostly personnel.”

That means toll takers will be losing their jobs, since the new system doesn’t require toll booths or toll collectors.

“We’re going to have 350 less folks working at the DOT,” Davey said.

The new technology will first be seen on the Tobin Bridge.

“We are going to have this on the Tobin Bridge by the end of this calendar year for a pilot and hope to fully roll it out on the Tobin early next year. We expect it to be a smashing success,” Davey told WBZ’s Joe Mathieu.

Open road tolling will be rolled out to other areas in the state after that.

“I sincerely doubt that where the toll booths are today is where we’re going to put these new electronic readers. 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.”

Right now, the speed limit for drivers at EZPass toll booths is 15 miles an hour.

“That is not fast,” says Davey.

“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.”

The electronic tolls could eventually expand around the state, according to Davey.

“A larger question for us as well is what is our tolling strategy going forward? Are we going to look at potentially tolling other roads in the future? Do we look at congestion pricing?”

Davey will speak to a pair of panels on electronic tolling at Suffolk University Tuesday.

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