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Thruway switching to cashless tolls tonight

Karen DeWitt / WBFO Albany Correspondent

Overnight on Friday, the New York State Thruway will make the switch to all cashless tolling. By Saturday morning, cameras mounted on steel gantries above the roadway will extract the tolls from E-ZPass accounts or send bills to motorist without one.

Cameras on 70 gantries at 58 locations on the Thruway will be turned on simultaneously early Saturday morning, and all of the remaining toll booths will shut down.

Thruway Authority Executive Director Matt Driscoll spoke about the project earlier this fall.

“They all have to turn on at the exact same time,” said Driscoll. “So that we can start recording that accordingly.”

The tolls for E-ZPass holders will remain the same, but for those without the electronic passes, the Thruway Authority is proposing that tolls be increased by 30% beginning in January. Bills will be sent to the address where the car is registered. There will also be late fees if the balance isn’t paid within 30 days.

Driscoll recommends buying an E-ZPass.

“We encourage people to go ahead and get an E-ZPass now,” Driscoll said. “Before the conversion takes place.”

The Thruway Authority also has a mobile app for E-ZPass.

The $355 million project is expected to reduce traffic jams at toll booths on the Thruway and reduce exhaust fumes from idling vehicles.

The toll collectors, though, will be out of a job. About 100 full-time collectors are retiring or will be placed in another state agency, and 903 part-time collectors will be laid off.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.
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