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I-Team: Overhead Tolls Coming To Mass. Pike In West Newton

By WBZ-TV Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve
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NEWTON (CBS) – Drivers will soon be paying a new toll on the Massachusetts Turnpike.

WBZ-TV’s I-Team has learned the free ride is over for a section of the highway. Crews will be adding an overhead toll collector in the Newton area of the Pike where there is no toll right now.

If you hop on the Pike in West Newton, like thousands do, and are used to not paying, soon you will. It’s all part of new system that in the coming weeks will be turned on, starting on the Tobin Bridge.

The I-Team has exclusive video of the very first toll booth to be removed the Tobin Bridge Tuesday. As soon as July 23, cars will be flowing freely over the bridge. Photos were taken over the weekend by the state show some of the demolition work that is now under way.

Frank DePaola is the State Highway Commissioner.

“In a matter of a few weeks we will remove a second booth which will allow us to pave three lanes, so we can flip the traffic on to this side. So we can remove the rest of it,” he said.

Within seven weeks all the toll-takers will be gone from the Tobin. EZ Pass drivers will soon be charged a toll when they drive under an electronic toll reader at the exit to the bridge. Now if you don’t have EZ Pass, the overhead readers will take a picture of your license plate and send a bill to the registered driver’s home.

The electronic tolling equipment at the end of the Tobin was turned on for testing on Tuesday. It will become real the last week of July or the first week of August.

The I-Team has also learned that Raytheon is expected to be awarded a $130 million contract to install all of the overhead electronic tolling equipment statewide.

DePaola says, “and that is to convert all of I-90 and the harbor tunnels and incorporate this (Tobin) bridge location into one electronic tolling network.”

The statewide work will begin this winter and will be completed in July of 2016 and that will include a new toll in the West Newton area of the highway. The new toll would be a minimum of 40 cents.

DePaola says, “Currently we have an untolled movement from Interstate 95 to Exit 17. One of our new tolling locations will be between those two points. So that would be a tolled movement.”

Now, the state says the changes will be revenue neutral, meaning if you drive the length of the Pike from New York to Boston the cost will be the same.

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