E-ZPass vans to visit local area
By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Shrewsbury/Westborough – Commuters west of Boston who wish to travel to the city will continue to pay tolls if they wish to use the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90). But a major project that will dismantle the toll plazas and instead collect tolls via All Electronic Tolling (AET) should eventually make the process less painful.
Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) hosted a public meeting Oct. 18 at the Westborough Town Hall to discuss the project. Representatives from the contractor for the project, SKANSKA/McCourt, and AECOM, the company responsible for the design, were also present.
Starting Friday, Oct. 28, gantries, which have already been placed over the road and equipped with sensors, will electronically register tolls from vehicles that pass under any gantry. If a vehicle has an E-ZPass transponder, the toll is automatically charged to the customer’s E-ZPass account. If a vehicle does not have an E-ZPass transponder, cameras mounted on the gantry will capture a photograph of the vehicle’s license plate and the registered owner of the vehicle will be sent an invoice. Pay-by-Plate users will pay a surcharge. E-ZPass users pay the normal toll.
Demolition of the plazas will start Sunday, Oct. 30. The process will include removing all accompanying structures, including the underground tunnels that held utilities and allowed toll collectors to get to their booths safely.
At the Oct. 18 meeting, John Gulliver, a District 3 MassDOT representative, said the project is being done to not only reduce traffic congestion and adverse impacts on the environment, but also to make the highway safer for commuters.
“According to the National Transportation Safety Bureau, toll authorities nationwide experience rear-end collision rates that exceed other types of collisions, in part because toll plazas interrupt the flow of high-speed traffic to intermittently collect tolls,” Gulliver said.
Gulliver said during the first stage, which is due to be completed by Tuesday, Nov. 22, traffic will be rerouted at each plaza to accommodate the demolition and still allow commuters to travel safely.
He cautioned that commuters will experience delays through the process, which would continue through the Thanksgiving weekend, a normally heavy traffic period.
The second stage of the project will have traffic redirected through the newly completed median sections, which should allow a more natural flow. That stage is due to be completed by late October 2017.
To view the complete presentation, visit www.massdot.state.ma.us/highway/tollinformation/allelectronictolling.
Additionally, State Rep. Hannah E. Kane (R-Shrewsbury), in partnership with MassDOT, will bring the E-ZPass Van to both Shrewsbury and Westborough Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
In Shrewsbury the E-ZPass Van will be located in the driveway in front of Town Hall, 100 Maple Ave. The E-ZPass Van in Westborough will be located in the parking lot of the Westborough Fire Station, 42 Milk St. Free E-ZPass transponders will be distributed for use on the Mass. Turnpike during the event.
Drivers who currently have no E-ZPass transponder are encouraged to obtain one. Applicants must bring vehicle registration, photo identification, and $20 to be paid by credit card or check only to open an E-ZPass account and obtain a transponder. The transponders are issued free and the $20 account will be used to pay charges for Massachusetts Turnpike.