The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has announced that All Electronic Tolling (AET) was successfully activated on Friday, October 28, along the 138 miles (222km) of the I-90 Massachusetts Turnpike.
MassDOT reports that all existing toll plazas along the I-90 are now set up with the temporary lane assignments needed for the first phase of toll plaza demolition and road reconstruction, with concrete barriers guiding drivers to the right and left lanes as the central toll booths are prepared to be demolished. The 16 gantry tolling locations are now collecting vehicle information as they travel underneath. Vehicle owners with EZ-Pass transponder accounts are having tolls deducted and owners without transponders are being recorded by ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) cameras for the ‘Pay By Plate’ system and will be sent invoices.
MassDOT says that approximately 1,447,494 transactions were processed by the AET gantries between 10:06pm on Friday, and 8:00am Sunday, which includes 1,232,795 transactions processed in the 24-hour period between Saturday at 8:00am and 8:00am on Sunday.
The new EZDriveMA AET website was activated on Friday at 10:00pm, to provide information on gantry rates, the hours and locations of Customer Service Centers, and the process for receiving a free transponder. The website’s functionality for transponder applications and customer account access will be activated on Tuesday, November 1, at 7:00am. The migration of 1.7 million customer accounts and other data from the former website will take several days. Access to MassDOT’s traffic cameras, including the 10 new cameras on I-90, will be added this week.
MassDOT awarded Raytheon the US$130m contract for the new AET system in August 2014. Raytheon, which is headquartered in the state, is completing the AET system installation together with a team of other Massachusetts-based companies, including: SPS New England, based in Salisbury, which was responsible for construction activities; CDM Smith of Cambridge, which provided architectural and engineering services and is in charge of traffic management; and Halifax-based Liddell Brothers, which was responsible for the gantry installation process and will deal with maintenance of the AET system.
As well as the I-90 Massachusetts Turnpike conversion, Raytheon’s work has also included AET deployment on the Metropolitan Highway System, Sumner/Callahan and Ted Williams Tunnels, and the Tobin Bridge.
By allowing traffic to be tolled at highway speeds, the AET system will reduce congestion, travel times and vehicle emissions from stop and go driving at existing toll plazas. MassDOT officials estimate that the agency will save about US$5m in annual operating costs with AET.
“In preparing for the launch of AET, we tried to get the word out to the public about what to expect, and inform drivers about the work that was occurring,” said Massachusetts transportation secretary Stephanie Pollack.
“While we recognize that our customers may face some short-term inconvenience as the toll booths come down, and as we all adjust to this new system, the benefits of improved safety, reduced congestion, and improved air quality will be of long lasting and significant benefit for the people of the commonwealth and beyond.”