WESTON (CBS) — With the switch to all-electronic tolling on the Massachusetts Turnpike set to begin Friday, MassDOT wants drivers to be prepared for a “short-term inconvenience” as the old toll booths are demolished.
At a news conference Monday, Highway Administrator Tom Tinlin said the final cash payments at the tolls will take place at 9:45 p.m. Friday, with the new electronic system going into effect fifteen minutes later.READ MORE: Spurs Best Celtics 96-88 Despite Blowing 24-Point Lead
He also outlined the phases of the demolition of the old toll booths.
First, Tinlin said, traffic will be diverted to the outside lanes of the Pike while demolition work takes place in the center lanes. This phase will last until November 22.
Then, during a second phase, drivers will be diverted to the center lanes while work to demolish the booths in the outside lanes was finished.
Tinlin said traffic is expected to slow down at the 16 gantries and 23 work zones starting Friday night. He urged drivers to slow down in the construction zones, drive during off-peak hours, and even consider taking the train, and told them “the world as you know it is going to look a lot different” next week.
During the demolition of the old booths, extra State Troopers will be deployed to the affected areas.
“We will deploy up to 200 State Police officers per day throughout the process, and as many as 100 per shift during the early part of the initial phase,” said State Police Major Terry Hanson.
In addition, unseen to drivers, the new system means that tunnels under the toll booths will need to be filled, and the roads themselves, which grade upward on the approach to the tolls, will need to be leveled off.
Under the new tolling system, drivers’ E-ZPass transponders will be scanned, or a photo of their license plate will be taken and they will be billed via an orange envelope in the mail.READ MORE: Moderna Seeks To Develop Variant-Specific Boosters For COVID-19 Mutations Like Omicron
Depending on where people commute, the new system could mean they are paying more or less than the old system.
Officials from Raytheon, the company that installed the new electronic toll gantries, said they had installed similar systems in 20 other locations around the world. They claim the new system will improve traffic safety and lessen congestion.
But even before the forecasted “short-term” congestion, frustrations are mounting.
“They can take me to court and I’m going to say, ‘I’m not paying it because your system doesn’t work,’” said Richard O’Connell. “Can’t do it online, you can’t do it at the Registry, you can’t do it at any sign in center because they all have the same issue.”
Many motorists complain they can’t even get or update their current transponders, like retired computer programmer, Richard O’Connell who’s been trying for weeks.
“An error occurred when processing your application. It says, ‘close the current browser and try again.’ I did this five times both in Internet Explorer and in Google Chrome. Called both of these numbers, they both refer me to another phone number to call, and all you get is an answering machine saying, ‘please call these numbers.’”
O’Connell isn’t alone. The lines are now out the door at some service centers.
“If they want me to solve the problem, they can call me,” O’Connell said.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Doug Cope reportsMORE NEWS: Gov. Charlie Baker Says Biden's Air Travel Restrictions Are 'The Right Move'