Looking to use technology to help tackle future regional mobility issues, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners recently authorized a planning study and preliminary design work to explore the feasibility of implementing an all-electronic toll collection system at its bistate crossings.
The study will evaluate the potential to replace the existing toll collection system, which relies on tollbooths to collect tolls, with one that collects tolls through a system of overhead gantries equipped with E-ZPass readers and license plate imaging technology.
The study and preliminary design work is scheduled to take approximately two years and cost $9 million.
“Facilitating the efficient movement of people and goods is one of our biggest challenges as we confront the region’s expected growth over the next several decades,” Port Authority Chairman Anthony R. Coscia said. “We must seek creative ways--like all-electronic tolling--to successfully minimize congestion and delays at our crossings and enable the continued growth and prosperity of our regional economy.”
“These days, we’re all looking for ways to deal with the growth we want without sacrificing the mobility we need,” Port Authority Executive Director Anthony E. Shorris said. “All-electronic tolling may offer us an opportunity to make progress on multiple fronts--not only easing congestion at some of the region’s most stubborn choke points, but also reducing the greenhouse gases released when thousands of cars and trucks idle in toll lanes.”
The study will look at the operational, financial, technological, organizational, institutional, legal and regulatory issues surrounding the switch to an all-electronic toll collection system. It also will develop schedules, project costs and preliminary designs for infrastructure.
The all-electronic method of collecting tolls is a growing trend. Toronto’s Highway 407 Express Toll Route has been collecting only electronic tolls via toll tags and video tolling since 1997. In November 2006, the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway elevated express lanes in Tampa, Fla. became the nation’s first all-electronic tolling facility, employing a combination of toll tags and video tolling without any cash collection. A similar all-electronic facility was later implemented on Texas Highway Loop 49 east of the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Other states also are planning similar projects or evaluating all-electronic technology.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates many of the busiest and most important transportation links in the region. They include John F. Kennedy International, Newark Liberty International, LaGuardia and Teterboro airports; AirTrain JFK and AirTrain Newark; the George Washington Bridge and Bus Station; the Lincoln and Holland tunnels; the three bridges between Staten Island and New Jersey; the PATH (Port Authority Trans-Hudson) rapid-transit system; the Port Authority-Downtown Manhattan Heliport; Port Newark; the Elizabeth-Port Authority Marine Terminal; the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island; the Brooklyn Piers/Red Hook Container Terminal; and the Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan. The agency also owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.
The Port Authority is financially self-supporting and receives no tax revenue from either state.