E-ZPass Ramp not so Easy for Some Drivers

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PENN FOREST TOWNSHIP -- The Pennsylvania Turnpike may force drivers without E-ZPass to pay more than $60 if they take the new E-ZPass only exit near Lake Harmony.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike opened the Route 903 interchange in Carbon County late last month. It’s an E-ZPass only exit for Jim Thorpe and Lake Harmony off the Northeast Extension, and 19,000 drivers have used it already.

"I've had E-ZPass for quite a while and the new ramp is great. I've used it a few times to get down to Lehighton,” said Richard Ciecka of Albrightsville.

But about 2,800 drivers who got off on the ramp didn’t have an E-ZPass. Ciecka says he’s made a mistake like that before and it will cost you.

"It happens. It happened to me one time where I went through, I think it was up in Scranton, somewhere in that area where I went through by mistake,” said Ciecka.

Drivers have to pony up about $65 for the violation. $25 of that is an administration fee. Then, you’ll get hit with the farthest toll on the turnpike from there, which happens to be the Ohio state line – a $40 charge.

"It says E-ZPass only, so I don't know how anyone could misinterpret. Really I don't,” said Ann Didato of Albrightsville.

Now if you're traveling the turnpike using toll tickets, you'll want to get off in Lake Harmony, just a few more miles down the road even though your GPS may not suggest it. Turnpike officials say one of the many reasons confusing drivers could be GPS systems.

"They could be. I mean, I've seen a lot of people do some crazy things without paying attention. I drive professionally for a living and I see a lot of crazy things out on the road people are doing,” said Thomas O’Rourke of Albrightsville.

But there is hope. If you have proof of where you entered the turnpike, you can appeal the charge. If you have an E-ZPass and it didn’t scan, you can appeal that, too.

"Yes, that's what I thought you could do. So people should appeal it if they get charged the extra,” said Ciecka.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike realizes mistakes will happen, and expects the number of E-ZPass violators to drop as drivers get used to the new interchange.


  • Lee Xioshin

    I think the real problem is that people, who don’t use the turn pike frequently, don’t know that you can get off further down the road. There needs to be signs telling people, who don’t have or feel a need for an EZ-pass, that there is a second exit X number of miles down the road. It’s scary when you think you’ll miss your exit, if you don’t turn right there. Just like when you drive back into PA from NJ, you see signs for cash and not just signs for EZ-pass only. Some people never had to use the turnpike or only use it when on vacation, so that might only be once out of one to two years so they won’t even know where to get an easy pass.

  • Cory

    The people that go through there should get a traffic violation. There are no charges to obtain an ez pass and the tolls are cheaper by a few cents. There should be no excuse when you get caught.

  • Debbie Barkley

    The associated press is reporting 4000 people went through the next ez-pass exit at Jim Thorpe. So is it 2800 or 4000, both numbers are ridiculous.

  • Bren

    I use the turnpike about once or twice a year, so I don’t have an EZPass. It’s irritating that this exit, presumably funded, at least in part, by taxpayers is only accessible to those who are frequent drivers and have the pass.

    • Prime evil

      So people that don’t have children shouldn’t pay school taxes either? It’s irritating that people like you think they are entitled to use something that others have paid for. An EZ Pass initially costs less than a night out, so pay up and use the new exits all you want or continue to drive out of your way and use more fuel and time, your choice. According to the turnpike commission, the new ramps were funded entirely by toll revenues.

      • Cory

        Welcome to America where everyone is entitled and everything you say offends everyone. How about we all go through the tolls, not pay and see where it gets us

      • Lee Xioshin

        There is a big difference between educating a child and getting an ez-pass so you can commute to work out of state and make more money than the people who work in PA or are retired. It would be nice if there could be a little understanding or compassion. I can see both sides of the coin. Yes, it says “EZ-pass only,” duh. What it doesn’t say is, that there is another exit further down for cash. If someone only uses the turnpike “once in a blue moon,” they aren’t going to remember or know that there is an exit further down. New road construction makes the road look different. Maybe fines for speeding should be more heavily enforced also.

  • Prime evil

    They should put the warning in large black letters on a bright, reflective yellow background with EZ Pass logo on it. Even Stevie Wonder or Ray Charles could see that.

    • Derp...

      The new ramp doesn’t have a non E-ZPass lane. It’s a special short cut just for E-ZPass holders.

      • Cory

        Why complain then? You didn’t have an ez pass before the exit existed . Why can’t you go the same way you did when the exit wasn’t there . Same toll price, same distance! Get an ez pass or get over it

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