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PA Turnpike toll booths to be removed in favor of ‘Open Road Tolling’ system

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The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission (PTC) will soon start to dismantle all toll booths as part of the switch to the “Open Road Tolling” system.

Open Road Tolling Expected In 2025

The PTC recently announced plans to transition to cashless “Open Road Tolling” (ORT).

As part of the ORT program, overhead toll gantries will be constructed to collect tolls electronically along the PA Turnpike without drivers slowing or stopping. Once the gantries are in place, use of the toll booths will be discontinued and eventually they will be dismantled.

Construction will begin this year and is expected to be completed by late 2025 or early 2026.

PA Turnpike Toll Rates To Be Standardized

Once the ORT system is in place, the PTC says that toll rates will change along the 564-mile Turnpike system. Officials say that toll rates will include a per-mile charge based on the length of the “segment” — the stretch of roadway between interchanges that customers travel — along with a fixed charge at each gantry.

How Does The Open Road Tolling System Work?

The PTC shared a breakdown of how the ORT system will work:

  • Vehicles are classified to determine the appropriate toll rate. Specialized sensors are mounted overhead to the gantry and embedded in the pavement to determine a vehicle’s height and number of axles. Sensors called vehicle separators distinguish one vehicle from others nearby. In the ORT system, weight will no longer be used to classify vehicles.
  • E-ZPass readers (antennae) collect vehicle information from a transponder device for those who have set up a prepaid account. Most PA Turnpike travelers — about 86% — choose this payment method, which offers the lowest rates.
  • If an E-ZPass transponder is not detected, overhead cameras that have already captured a series of high-definition images of a vehicle’s license plate will check the E-ZPass system to see if the license plate is tied to an E-ZPass. If one is found, payment will be deducted from the user’s account at the E-ZPass price. Otherwise, a Toll By Plate invoice is generated and mailed to the registered owner. Due to the costs of processing a toll this way, rates for Toll By Plate customers are higher.
  • All data collected at the gantry is transferred via a broadband, fiber optic network now being built to the Turnpike’s Customer Service Center, located in Harrisburg, for verification, processing, and payment. All data is secured and not shared.

According to Turnpike officials, the ORT system will be better for the environment, safer for Turnpike workers and drivers, and will result in $25 million in savings for the PTC per year.

Check out the video below for more on the ORT system.

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