Turnpike Toll Plazas to Go?

LACKAWANNA COUNTY — Pennsylvania Turnpike officials said Tuesday they have an ambitious plan to convert the turnpike system into all-electronic one by charging drivers without using toll plazas.

The five-year plan calls for overhead “gantries” – large metal structures — that will charge E-ZPass accounts or take pictures of license plates so drivers can be billed later.

“I think overall, it’s a great idea. It moves things along and keeps things going,” said Brandon Kamin of Philadelphia.

“It’s much more convenient. You hate to see people lose jobs but it’s much easier plus it’s convenient to link it to a credit card. It just gets taken out,” said Bill Kondash of Freeland.

Earlier this year, consultants made the recommendation to switch to an all-electronic turnpike. Eliminating toll plazas means eliminating jobs, more than 850.

“I really don’t like it because it costs employees a lot of jobs. There’s 800 jobs at stake and I’d think the way the economy is, we’d like to keep our jobs,” said Sharon Mrozinski of White Haven.

Some people said they would be willing to pay tolls on other roads if it would save the state money and peoples’ jobs.

“For instance, I’m from outside of Philadelphia, (Route) 422, they don’t charge tolls there. Now I don’t drive 422, so people on 422 might mind, but go somewhere else and charge tolls instead of taking people out of work,” said Patrick Morrissey of the Philadelphia area.

Turnpike officials said it costs about $67 million a year to operate toll plazas.

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