As part of the move toward national toll interoperability that is due later in the year, a bridge in Florida has been upgraded to Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) from its previous cash-based system.
The Bob Sikes Bridge on SR 399, which runs from US 98 across Santa Rosa Sound to Santa Rosa Island and Pensacola Beach, is operated by Escambia County, with toll collection and processing handled by Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise (FTE), a business unit of the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). Passage across the bridge was previously only allowed with cash or annual resident’s passes, whereas following its ETC conversion, drivers can now also use the state’s SunPass transponders for more convenient access across the Sound. The ETC upgrade also makes the bridge compatible with other toll roads and bridges in the state, enabling Escambia County and the FTE to meet the Federal requirement for interoperable tolling by October 1, 2016. Interoperability enables Florida motorists to travel throughout the state and access all toll roads using a single transponder.
The Bob Sikes Bridge’s tolling system has been successfully upgraded to ETC by TransCore, using its Infinity Digital Lane System. The company’s Infinity system is a proven product comprising off-the-shelf components that are installed throughout the state of Florida. Its modular or ‘blade-based’ architecture extends the life of the system well beyond other tolling systems that only achieve a useful life of 5-7 years and add unnecessary burdens to local transportation budgets. The blades are easily installed, changed, or removed, significantly reducing maintenance and repair times. Each individual blade has its own power supply, central processing unit (CPU), data storage, and front panel diagnostics and maintenance ports. The Infinity system integrates automatic vehicle identification (AVI), vehicle classification, and video capture and number plate recognition systems (ANPR) specifically designed to automatically collect transactions in high-volume traffic, across a wide variety of traffic speeds and patterns, with the highest degrees of accuracy in the industry.
Commenting on the ETC conversion, Escambia County Commissioner, Grover Robinson, said, “With summer upon us, the deployment of electronic tolling on the Bob Sikes Bridge is a welcome addition to both our residents and many visitors.”
TransCore has partnered with FTE and other state transportation agencies since the mid-1990s, developing and deploying Florida’s most advanced and integrated all-electronic and open road tolling (ORT) systems. Jim Wilson, senior vice president and Florida toll manager at TransCore, said, “We’re proud to support Escambia County by bringing innovative solutions that enhance mobility for their patrons, while also maintaining FTE’s path toward interoperability.”