Garden State Parkway’s new Sayreville exit will only take E-ZPass
EAST BRUNSWICK — The Garden State Parkway makes a move towards cashless tolls with a new exit ramp that only takes E-ZPass. But the complete elimination of cash is a long way off, officials say.
Turnpike Authority spokesman Tom Feeney said the off-ramp currently under construction at Exit 125 in Sayreville just before the Raritan toll plaza "will complete one of the few partial interchanges left on the Parkway." Once completed in 2018, southbound drivers will be able to take Exit 125, which currently is accessible only to drivers headed north.
"This is not about getting people to pay more money. The $1.50 they would have paid at the Raritan toll plaza they'll pay on the exit ramp," Feeney said, adding that there will just be a gantry over the roadway to read EZ Pass transponders and collect tolls.
There is not enough room on the property to build both a required building and employee parking lot for toll takers, according to Feeney.
Drivers without E-ZPass will continue to use Exit 124 as they do now to get into Sayreville. A pay-by-plate system will not be in place for the foreseeable future anywhere on the Parkway.
"I am unaware of any state that has that system in place for just one exit. I don't know if that's do-able," Feeney said. Several surrounding states have implemented such programs for cash payers that Feeney said New Jersey is watching carefully to see how much revenue is lost by its implementation.
Pay-by-plate allows drivers to driver under the gantries at full speed. Cameras snap a picture of their license plate and a bill is sent to the vehicle's registered owner. The Pennsylvania Turnpike started such a system this past year for drivers entering from New Jersey. The Tappan Zee Bridge went cashless with a similar payment system and the Massachusetts Turnpike removed all toll plaza this past fall.
"After we see how it works in those places we'll make decisions about whether it might work on the Turnpike and Parkway, too. There's no provision for it in our regulations right now," Feeney said.
While the two toll roads can take pictures of the license plates of violators at toll plazas, the Turnpike Authority has not yet looked into the legal steps required to utilize a toll-by-plate system.
Construction began on the new ramp this year and will be completed in 2018.
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.