Cashless tolling remains on track for Thruway despite pandemic
ALBANY – The Thruway's new cashless-tolling system remains on track to go live by the end of 2020 after the state installed the last of 70 overhead gantries this week.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office and the state Thruway Authority on Friday marked the latest milestone for the $355 million project, noting the final steel gantry had gone up at the Geneva exit on Interstate 90.
Now, Thruway crews will work to install more than 2,000 cameras and sensors, which will capture license plates and E-ZPass transponders as they pass through.
The major project means the days of the human-staffed toll booths are limited. And, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the project remains on schedule, according to the state.
Under the cashless system, E-ZPass users will have their accounts billed directly, while those without E-ZPass will have a bill mailed to the home of the person who owns their vehicle.
"As the project continues, we're on schedule for the system to go live by the end of 2020, ushering in a new era of transportation on the Thruway," Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew Driscoll said in a statement Friday.
Cuomo and the Thruway Authority first announced plans in 2018 to shift the entire Thruway system to cashless tolling by the end of 2020, following several other states — including neighboring Massachusetts — that have already made the switch.
Construction began in September 2019.
Under the Thruway's plan, the human-staffed toll booths will be taken out of service by the end of the year, though the structures will remain there until the authority's contractors can take them down.
After the cashless system goes live, drivers will face a 20 mph speed limit when passing through the booths. After the booths are removed, the speed limit will increase to on-ramp speed.
To implement the system, the Thruway Authority had to install 70 steel, overhead gantries to hold the cameras and sensors. Motorists will drive underneath at highway or on-ramp speed.
The gantries are split between the on- and off- ramps and the actual highway. The ramp gantries are 23 feet high and anywhere from 48 to 94 feet in length, weighing between 33,000 and 74,000 pounds, according to the state.
The highway gantries are 58 feet to 150 feet long, 23 feet high and weigh between 25,000 and 104,000 pounds.
The gantries were forged out of about 3.5 million pounds of steel at LMC Industrial Contractors Inc. in Avon, Livingston County.
Jon Campbell is a New York state government reporter for the USA TODAY Network. He can be reached at JCAMPBELL1@Gannett.com or on Twitter at @JonCampbellGAN.
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