The Pennsylvania Turnpike will be able to spend as much as $50 million over the next seven years to add and upgrade tolling equipment on the highway.
The state Turnpike Commission approved a new contract last week with TransCore, a Hummelstown firm that specializes in tolling equipment. The agreement allows the agency to buy the needed equipment to continue participating in the E-ZPass Inter-Agency Group, 19 states and more than 40 agencies that use the E-ZPass transponder system to collect tolls.
Under the IAG, tolling agencies use similar antennas, cameras, transponders and recording equipment to collect data from drivers to bill them for using toll roads. The program allows drivers to use one transponder — linked with a vehicle owner’s credit card account to deduct payments — in many different locations.
Collecting more than $1.2 billion tolls annually can be an expensive process for the turnpike. Spokesman Carl DeFebo said the agency will spend an estimated $34.4 million from 2017 through 2024 on tolling equipment, an average of $4.3 million each year.
In addition to allowing the agency to update existing equipment, the new agreement will allow it to begin expansion of its open-road tolling program beginning in 2024 in the eastern part of the state, DeFebo said. The agency eliminated cash payments two years ago and will replace toll plazas at exits with overhead gantries on the main road that will read transponders and allow the agency to create free-flowing entry and exit ramps where toll plazas stand now.
The agency also will use the contract when it installs new interchanges such as the one expected in Penn Township, Westmoreland County, next year.
Pennsylvania joined with New York and New Jersey in 1990 to start the E-ZPass program. It now includes nearly all toll agencies in 19 states in the Midwest and along the East Coast.