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Pennsylvania Turnpike gate to go cash free for safety

The entrance gate to the Pennsylvania Turnpike will be going cashless at 12:01 a.m. Oct. 27, requiring motorists to use an E-ZPass transponder or be billed according to their license plate, according to Ohio Turnpike spokesman Brian Newbacher.

Along with the change comes an increase in rates, from the $7.90 cash toll to $12.20 for two-axle motorists. E-ZPass holders will also notice an increase, albeit a smaller one, from $5.50 to $5.90.

“It would behoove travelers who go to Pennsylvania with any frequency to get an E-ZPass,” Newbacher said.

Renee Colborn, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Turnpike, said the increased toll is to cover the cost of invoicing, mailing and collecting the toll by plate fees.

The entire Pennsylvania Turnpike is scheduled to go cashless by the end of 2021, said Colborn. She said the change will be safer and will keep drivers moving.

“It’s a lot safer for drivers because they can keep moving because they don’t need to stop, or look for change or money, or jockey for a position in the right lane for cash or E-ZPass,” said Colborn.

She said toll collectors who work at Gateway Plaza will be moved to other locations, but the turnpike is also offering people in those positions the opportunity to do paid training in the area of their choice in anticipation of eliminating the job completely. She said many people have opted to get a commercial driver’s license and transition to another position with the turnpike.

Colborn said the Pennsylvania turnpike already has some cashless locations, including at the Findlay Connector near the Pittsburgh Airport, where gantries, or overhead electronic toll collectors, are already in place.

The Ohio Turnpike, Newbacher said, is moving toward “open road tolling,” which utilizes the gantries, but a cash option will remain.

Travelers interested in getting an E-ZPass can go online to www.ohioturnpike.org or visit one of Ohio’s 14 service plazas along the turnpike. Transponders take 24 hours to activate in Ohio and 48 hours to activate in other states. The small transponders are traditionally mounted on the dash or windshield of a vehicle and operate on a pre-paid account system attached to a form of payment.

Travelers who use E-ZPass save an average of 33 percent on tolls, according to the Ohio Turnpike website. It is accepted in 17 states and at the bridge crossings of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission.

For more information about cashless tolling on the Pennsylvania turnpike, visit www.nocashzone.com.

avugrincic@tribtoday.com