R. Jensen: Toll gate lunacy

I read in the Sun Journal that the Maine Turnpike Authority is starting a $5 million project at the Gray plaza for “open road tolling” that would allow those having E-ZPass transponders to drive through while traveling up to 65 mph. That has to be the epitome of insanity.

Traveling on the turnpike, I disable the cruise control at the half-mile approach sign to the toll barrier. I engage the cruise control after exiting the barrier and am at the end speed limit sign — 50 seconds of elapsed time for that activity. Covering approximately the same distance (6/10 of a mile) at 65 mph, it takes roughly 30 seconds; so the $5 million project will save a driver 20 seconds on his journey.

Turnpike Executive Director Peter Mills is quoted as saying, “The new toll system will save money.” Pray tell, how, Mr. Mills?

I cannot believe the Turnpike Authority’s board of directors has approved such lunacy.

Richard Jensen, Minot

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MARK GRAVEL's picture

“The new toll system will

“The new toll system will save money.” Pray tell, how, Mr. Mills?

This is an easy question to answer. Once the automated system is in place, staffing can be reduced. Moreover, the more Mr. Mills drives up wait times at staffed toll booths, the more people will move to E-ZPass out of frustration. Hence, then staff can be reduced even more.

The savings will come in the form of reduced labor costs.

FRANK EARLEY's picture

Gary you hit the nail on the head

This is also a safety issue. You take a toll booth like York, just past the toll its about a mile up hill. Sure there's a truck lane, but to alot of tourists its just a right lane. I can tell you, when you have to get forty tons moving even from ten miles per hour. Thirteen speeds takes awhile to get back to speed on a hill. I've had more than one close call of company in the back seat at that toll booth. We've been talking about full speed toll booths since the seventies. I for one am glad its finally happening. Course now that I'm retired, I can't enjoy it. Oh well...

 's picture

Maybe I'm the only one to

Maybe I'm the only one to notice. The side discussion under Jason's post below grew from his use of the word "cursing" when, presumably, he meant "cruising". Of course, Breton seized on it like a junkyard dog on a T-bone. It doesn't take much to keep some people amused.

That said, I "curse" while driving, especially when pot-hole surfing in LA. No, Dan, that's not Los Angeles, either.

 's picture

We have used the open road

We have used the open road tolling in other states and it is very efficient. Some folks just don't like change of any kind. I say it is long overdue and if you people that bitch don't like it, or the tolls, don't use the road. It is as simple as that.

Jason Theriault's picture

It works very well.

As a EZ Pass user, I have used the at-speed system in place in New Hampshire, and it works miracles there. It is far safer because everyone can just stay at speed, cursing along with no slowing down or whatnot.

Also, I think the reason they are doing it at Gray is to test it for other areas. Gray doesn't have a ton of traffic, so they can work the bugs out first there and try it out.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Dan, From what I can read,

From what I can read, you curse 24/7!
Perhaps you should turn on your curse control ?

 's picture

That logic also works in reverse

So when I visit my relatives in LA my NH vehicle is taxed to pay for your ME benefits.

 's picture

LA= Lewiston/Auburn ......And

LA= Lewiston/Auburn ......And I don't curse when I travel the pike. Its a cost of moving out of state in order to find a job in my career field at the time.

Jason Theriault's picture

We do the same to those "from Away"

We do the same to those "from Away"

 's picture

The high-speed lanes ...

... are different from the narrow, dangerous lanes we have now. The ones I have used are at least two traveling lanes wide, with the EZ-Pass equipment overhead and out of the way.

Take a ride through the Hampton tolls in NH to see how it works. It's like that all along the east coast - except Maine. The lunacy is assuming the new system will have to use existing lanes. Lighten up.

GARY SAVARD's picture

Open road tolling will be of

Open road tolling will be of extra benefit to commercial trucks, because many already use E-ZPass, and it takes them much longer and they use more fuel gearing down and then back up to go through a toll plaza at 10 MPH. It may not mean much to passenger car drivers, but all in all, I think the system will be beneficial.


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