SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) - Springfield hosted a public hearing Thursday night to answer questions about a proposed new Tolling System for the Massachusetts Turnpike.
Over the next four years, these toll booths will be demolished. Instead, you'll see overhead structures at 10 different spots on the Turnpike that will collect your tolls electronically.
At the meeting, Ben Surner of Amherst asked, “If somebody goes from Palmer to Chicopee, that's a 35-cent toll, and they don't use the Pike the rest of the month, are we going to send them a 46-cent stamp for a 35-cent toll?”
The answer is "Yes." The Mass. Department of Transportation wants to replace the entry-exit ticket system with a new "All Electronic Tolling" system on the MassPike.
That means you will not have to stop to pay the tolls. Instead, an overhead system will scan your EZ-Pass or your license plate.
MassDOT Highway Administrator Frank DePaola told 22News, “We'll get your license plate. We'll associate that with the registered owner. The billing be on a monthly basis, just like your phone bill, or your electric bill, you'll get a bill for the use of the toll road.”
Once the transition is complete in 2017, current toll booth workers will lose their jobs, but MassDOT officials promised, they will provide training programs so those workers can find different positions within the department.
Some drivers don't want the new system. They said Turnpike tolls should be phased out in 2017, when the current bond is paid up. Drivers fear the new system signals an increase in tolls.
Tom Walling of Wilbraham said, “What a waste of money. If it's paid up, then it's paid up, and we shouldn't have to put anything up to collect the money.”
Turnpike tolls may come down in 2017. However, MassDOT officials said that is not a guarantee.
Depending on the condition of the highway, tolls may stay up for maintenance costs, so they will continue to move forward with the new tolling system.