TN, Whitestone toll lanes gone by fall 2017

Governor Cuomo announced on Wednesday, December 21 cash lanes will be removed in 2017 from all MTA bridges throughout the state.
Photo Courtesy of Robert Christie

If you’re tired of waiting in line to pay a bridge toll, your life may get a little easier by this time next year.

Governor Cuomo announced on Wednesday, December 21 that toll plaza lanes will be removed in 2017 from all Metropolitan Transit Authority bridges and tunnels.

The plan includes the toll plaza lanes for the Throgs Neck Bridge and the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.

According to to release from the MTA, cash lanes at the aforementioned bridges will be removed by fall 2017.

The removals are apart of the governor’s plan to implement Open Road Tolling.

“Open road tolling streamlines commutes, reduces inconvenience, and, along with bolstered security measures and new LED lighting and art, reimagines New York’s crossings as part of our infrastructure overhaul to meet the needs of current and future generations of New Yorkers,” Cuomo said. “This project is a transformative investment in our future that revolutionizes statewide transportation and helps us build a new New York.”

Instead of toll booths drivers will now drive under structures called gantries.

These gantries will be fitted with state-of-the-art sensors and cameras which will take a photo of a vehicle’s license plate.

If that driver has an E-ZPass tag, it will be charged the toll automatically. If not, a bill for the toll will be sent to the vehicle owner’s residence within 30 days.

The MTA and state estimate the open road tolling model will save drivers 21 hours of drive time per year.

In addition, they expect it to reduce emissions and decrease the fuel that is commonly burned by the ‘stop and go’ at a toll plaza.

“These improvements will enhance traffic flow, reduce congestion, and decrease commute times making it safer for New Yorkers to get where they need to go,” said Thomas F. Prendergast, chairman of the MTA. “The accelerated schedule we are undertaking to modernize all of our facilities in 2017 underscores the Governor’s commitment to investing in New York’s transportation network to meet the needs of a growing city.”

The state also plans to be much stricter with enforcement at MTA toll bridges in the coming year.

In 2017, they will add 150 state troopers to key checkpoints in an effort to stop chronic toll evaders and bolster public safety.

In addition, if a driver does not pay the toll, penalties will include a $50 violation fee, car registration suspension and a late fee if the first toll bill goes unpaid.

The late fee could increase to as much as $100.

Commercial vehicle registrations will be suspended if unpaid tolls climb above $200.

If a driver with a suspended registration attempts to drive through a toll gantry a state trooper standing at that location will immediately pursue the driver.

In addition to the Throgs Neck and Bronx-Whitestone bridges, toll lanes will be removed from the Hugh L. Carey Tunnel (January 2017), the Queen Midtown Tunnel (January 2017), Rockaway Bridges (spring 2017), the RFK Bridge (summer 2017) and the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge (summer 2017).

Reach Reporter Robert Christie at (718) 260-4591. E-mail him at rchristie@cnglocal.com.

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