COLLINS LANDING — Travelers will be able to use E-ZPass to cross the Thousand Islands International Bridge next year when bridge owners upgrade the tollbooths.
The Thousand Islands Bridge Authority and the Federal Bridge Corp., which owns the Canadian span of the bridge, will invest $2.25 million each toward new scanning technology, which will allow drivers to use E-ZPass, at the four tolls before Wellesley Island and three tolls in Lansdowne, Ontario.
Robert G. Horr III, executive director of the bridge authority, said the technology firm TransCore, Nashville, will begin installing new equipment at the more than 50-year-old tolls in spring 2019 and finish that summer.
Toll collectors will continue accepting cash and credit after the upgrades.
“Customers have been asking for (E-ZPass) for a number of years, so we knew once we were in the position, we needed to replace the toll system because of its obsolescence,” Mr. Horr said. “It’ll streamline the queue and (prevent) any back ups at the tolls.”
The bridge authority has been exploring ways to incorporate electronic tolling methods that accept E-ZPass since 2014. Xerox State and Local Solutions Inc. offered to upgrade the bridge tolls in 2016 for $10.3 million, but the authority, which had budgeted $3 million to $4 million for the project, rejected the bid.
The service provided by TransCore will cost both bridge owners a combined $5.5 million. The new equipment will also streamline the toll process for travelers who use commuter discount fares when crossing the bridge.
Once Transcore finishes installing the upgrades, the bridge authority and corporation will issue commuter discount stickers that will replace the plastic cards drivers would hand toll operators, Mr. Horr said.
Commuters who have purchased the cards will have them replaced with stickers at the tolls.
“So now we don’t have to pass the card back and forth,” Mr. Horr said.
The technology upgrades follow recent improvements to the toll systems, including new air conditioning, heating and lighting, Mr. Horr said.
“We wanted to make sure we had a toll system that would last a long time and be robust enough so we don’t need to buy a new toll system,” he said.