MassDOT proposes all electronic tolling system - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

MassDOT proposes all electronic tolling system

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation plans to make all tolling on the Mass turnpike electronic by 2017.

Representatives for MassDOT met with residents in Springfield on Thursday night to see what they think about it.

Drivers in Western Mass are familiar with the tickets and the EZ-Pass, but by Jan. 2017, the entire system will be different.

"It'll save us some significant operating costs but also to provide convenience for people using the road," said MassDOT highway administrator Frank Depaola.

MassDOT officials are traveling across the state, meeting with residents to tell them about plans to go electronic.

Instead of the traditional toll booths, MassDOT officials are planning overhead electronic tolling systems where drivers can enter and exit the pike without stopping at all.

It will cost close to $250 million, with $120 million going to construction of the new system.

Some at Thursday night's meeting questioned whether it's necessary.

"What a waste of money," said Tom Walling of Wilbraham. "I question whether or not the tolls are needed, and if it was supposed to be paid for why are the tolls still being collected? Is the turnpike designed for traffic or is it designed for a money making affair for the state."

Officials say in the long run it will save money.

For the 30 percent of Massachusetts drivers that don't use EZ-Pass, the new technology will snap a photo of your plate.

"The billing will be on a monthly basis just like your phone bill or your electric bill," Depaola said.

MassDOT officials say they're currently in collective bargaining talks with toll collectors. Officials said they plan on training them for new jobs working in the back office.

Those that do lose their jobs may be entitled to a bonus package.

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