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.