ALBANY — Tollbooths along the New York State Thruway will soon be no more.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this week that the state has contracted with a “Design-Build team” to install cashless tolling and remove existing tollbooths on the Thruway by the end of 2020. The project comes with a price tag of $355.3 million, according to the governor’s office.
“New York state is making historic investments building a modern transportation network worthy of the 21st century and beyond,” Cuomo said. “By investing in technology like cashless tolling, we are creating a safer, greener and less congested Thruway system and ensuring our transportation infrastructure is capable of supporting New York’s growing economy.”
About 267 million motorists use the Thruway each year, according to the governor’s office.
The switch to cashless tolling and the removal of tollbooths will be carried out by the contractor Cashless Tolling Constructors, LLC.
Cuomo first announced the plan to move to cashless tolling in his 2018 State of the State address. There is already cashless tolling at several fixed-price barriers in the lower Hudson Valley and at the Grand Island Bridges in Western New York.
The first step will be for the Thruway Authority to install gantries and cashless tolling equipment. Once operational, drivers will pass under the gantries, without stopping, and sensors and cameras will read E-ZPass tags and take photos of license plates. Bills will be sent to registered owners of vehicles that don’t have E-ZPass. Drivers who pay using the Tolls by Mail system will pay the same toll rate they paid when they were cash customers; E-ZPass customers with New York accounts will continue to receive a 5% discount, according to the governor’s office.
Once the cashless tolling system is in place, existing toll plazas will be removed in phases. At the present time, the Thruway employs 200 full-time and about 1,000 part-time toll collectors, according to a spokesman for the New York State Thruway Authority. Some have already chosen to retire; others will have opportunities to apply for other jobs with the Thruway or undergo training for new fields, the spokesman said.
Local officials expressed concerns about those lost positions.
For more information on how the new system will work, visit thruway.ny.gov.