New York State Governor Andrew M Cuomo has announced a transformational plan to reimagine New York’s bridge and tunnel river crossings for the 21st century, with open road tolling, flood and seismic safety systems, and new LED lighting.
The governor’s plan will institute state-of-the-art automatic tolling at all MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) bridges and tunnels, reducing traffic congestion and decreasing emissions to improve the overall travel experience for millions of residents and visitors in New York State.
At the Governor’s direction, the state will also deploy cutting-edge technology and security personnel to high-profile crossings in New York to enhance public safety and fortify anti-terror efforts. As part of the New York Crossings Project, Cuomo also announced the state will implement new tunnel barriers to control major floods, and seismic measures on bridges that will provide long-term protection from earthquakes and other natural forces. The transformational project also includes the addition of energy efficient LED lighting that will be partially used as public art.
The New York Crossings Project encompasses all seven MTA-operated bridges and its two tunnels. The coordinated lighting plan will also include the George Washington Bridge, which is operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ). Funding for these transformational improvements is allocated as part of the MTA’s US$27bn capital plan. On average, 800,000 vehicles use MTA tunnels and bridges each day, and as a whole, New York drivers spend more than 6,400 hours per day waiting to pay tolls. To reduce traffic congestion, the state is implementing automatic or ‘open road’ tolling (ORT). The new, automated tolls will significantly enhance traffic flow, reduce congestion and decrease commute times.
Vehicles with E-ZPass transponders will be automatically charged, and non-E-ZPass vehicles will have their number plate recorded and a bill will be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. ORT is projected to save commuters up to 21 hours of drive time every year, while also reducing emissions and saving approximately one million gallons of fuel. Automatic tolling will begin on both MTA tunnels in January and be completed on all MTA-operated bridges by the end of next year.
The project will reconfigure toll plazas with walls that will be transformed by veils that shield security personnel and equipment, while acting as LED message boards. Intercept vehicles will be stationed behind the veil and security personnel will have line-of-sight monitoring portals. Each automated tolling structure on MTA-operated bridges and tunnels will be covered with a decorative artwork presenting a ‘wave’ effect constructed from chainmail fabric, which moves with the wind. LED lighting will be adopted on all MTA bridges and tunnels, which use 40-80% less power and last six times longer than other types of roadway lighting.
Cuomo said, “From speeding up commutes and reducing emissions on key roadways with automatic tolling, to bolstering resiliency on our bridges and tunnels, and increasing security at key checkpoints, this transformational project will revolutionize transportation in New York and ensure that our state is built to lead for generations to come.”