Toll booths are about to become a thing of the past in Queens.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on Wednesday that all 7 MTA bridges and tunnels — including the Whitestone, Throgs Neck, RFK (Triborough) and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridges, as well as the Queens Midtown Tunnel — will employ automatic tolling by the end of next year, which would eliminate toll booths, save drivers time and reduce emissions.
About 800,000 vehicles cross MTA tunnels and bridges each day and New York drivers spend more than 6,400 hours per day waiting to pay tolls. Automatic or open road tolling is projected to save drivers up to 21 hours of driving time every year, conserve approximately one million gallons of fuel and save $2.3 million each year, Cuomo said.
Sensors and cameras will be installed over the highway and cars will not be required to stop. Drivers with E-ZPass will be automatically charged and those without it will have their license plate recorded and a bill will be sent to the registered owner.
Funding for this project will come from the MTA’s $27 billion capital plan.
“By investing in New York’s transportation network today and equipping it to meet the challenges of tomorrow, we are cementing our state’s position as a national leader in 21st century infrastructure and cutting-edge innovation,” Cuomo said.
Each automated tolling structure will be covered with decorative artwork that mimics a wave. It will be constructed from chainmail fabric so it can move with the wind.
At the Queens Midtown and Hugh Carey (Brooklyn Battery) Tunnels, new barriers will be installed to block floodwater and increased submersible pumping capacity will allow the city to more thoroughly pump water out of these structures in an event like Hurricane Sandy.
As part of the plan, advanced cameras and sensors will be installed at each crossing, bridge and tunnel to read license plates and test facial recognition software and equipment. LED lighting will be installed on all bridges and tunnels because of its energy efficiency and its ability to be programmed into different colors and patterns.
Approximately 525 Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority officers will provide security and traffic management at bridges and tunnels and will collaborate with State Police on toll enforcement; 150 members of State Police Troop NYC will be assigned at crossings to handle security and anti-terror activities; and 150 National Guardsmen will work with troopers on security and anti-terror initiatives.
Personnel and equipment will be stationed behind an LED veil and monitoring portals will be installed to give officers clear sight of all vehicles passing through.
Automatic tolling will begin on tunnels in January 2017 and will be installed in all MTA bridges by the end of 2017.
“From speeding up commutes and reducing emissions on key roadways with automatic tolling to bolstering resiliency on our bridges and tunnels and increasing security at key checkpoints, this transformational project will revolutionize transportation in New York and ensure that our state is built to lead for generations to come,” Cuomo said.