New York State Sen. Chris Jacobs, R-60th District, has called on the New York State Thruway Authority to implement cashless tolling at the Grand Island bridges. In a letter to Thruway Authority Executive Director Bill Finch, Jacobs outlined the rationale for cashless tolling at the Grand Island bridges.
"This technology is successfully utilized at more than 35 bridges, tunnels and toll roads across the United States and is used by the Thruway Authority at the Tappan Zee Bridge in downstate New York," said Jacobs, who represents Grand Island in the State Senate. "This technology will reduce traffic congestion, reduce air pollution and increase safety. The Thruway Authority maintains two bridge crossings in their system, Grand Island and Tappan Zee. This is another example of the unequal treatment Western New York receives as compared to the New York City area. Tappan Zee has cashless tolling and it's time to bring cashless tolling to Grand Island."
According to a press release from Jacobs' office, with cashless tolling, motorists are able to pay their toll while maintaining highway speeds, making the toll plaza a thing of the past. The state-of-the-art system collects tolls via E-ZPass and Tolls By Mail, detecting classes of vehicles and applying the correct charge.
If a motorist has E-ZPass, the toll is collected using the same process that motorists are already familiar with. If a motorist does not have E-ZPass, cameras photograph the vehicle's license plate as it passes under the overhead equipment. A bill is then automatically sent to the registered owner by U.S. Mail. A video showing how the technology works at the Tappan Zee Bridge can be viewed at http://www.newnybridge.com/cashlesstolling/.
"The Grand Island bridges are the only way Grand Island residents can get to and from their home. Alleviating congestion, reducing pollution and increasing safety will enhance their quality of life," Jacobs continued. "Furthermore, the Grand Island bridges are a key connector between the tourist hubs of Niagara Falls and Buffalo. It is critical to explore ways to alleviate the bottleneck caused by congestion at the Grand Island bridges to encourage travel between these two population centers and further enhance our regional economy."