Atlantic City Expressway 'Express E-ZPass' - open road tolling at Egg Harbor Toll Plaza NJ
By Peter Samuel
South Jersey Transportation Authority (SJTA) decided on doing it without any fanfare or fuss. No politicians giving speeches, no press bus. When they were ready this Friday (2011-05-20) a handful of staff and contractors used a lift to remove the covers from "E-ZPass Express" signage up on sign gantries. Others on the ground hauled away the orange construction zone barrels and let the traffic flow.
Eastbound they did at around 9:30, and westbound around noon.
Now you can pay your tolls at the Egg Harbor toll point at regular highway speed (a posted 65mph) through two lanes each direction through the middle of the old 13 toll booth stop-to-pay toll plaza.
So open road tolling (ORT) is now operating at both mainline toll plazas on the Atlantic City Expressway, the major highway between the Philadelphia area and Atlantic City and the surrounding Jersey Shore.
The other mainline plaza at Pleasantville got ORT back in 2004.
Sam Donelson, chief engineer at SJTA is saying the open road lanes will have a capacity of 1800 vehicles/hour each compared to 400 vehicles/hour in the cash lanes. That means the capacity of the plaza has about doubled - going from 5200/hour (13x400) to 10,800/hour (7200 in the ORT lanes, 3600 in the remaining cash lanes.)
Five cash toll or roll-through E-ZPass lanes remain on the eastbound side. On the other side of the 2+2 open road toll lanes are four cash/roll-through E-ZPass lanes westbound.
Bart Mueller, executive director of the South Jersey Transportation Authority is quoted in a statement earlier: "The addition of the Express E-ZPass lanes will improve the overall experience along the Expressway as the new express lanes keep traffic moving and reduce the congestion caused by the large number of cash toll customers. Our expectation is that more motorists will see the multiple benefits of E-ZPass and convert from paying tolls by cash to paying through E-ZPass."
Ten week job
Starting early March work crews took out the central four toll booths and islands allowing about 60ft, 18m width of new pavement to be laid providing the four 12ft 3.6m wide lanes, four 1.75ft 50cm offsets or shoulders, and three lines of concrete jersey barrier - a median barrier and one barrier each side dividing the highspeed from the stopping/rollthrough lanes.
A pair of 20inch, 50cm diameter 'monotube' galvanized steel gantries (see pictures) spanning the four lanes from outside the jersey barrier carry the overhead electronic toll equipment - the reader antennas and cameras. Cabling for these devices is carried neatly within the generously sized structural tube.
SJTA was keen to increase the capacity of the Egg Harbor toll plaza by Memorial Day, one of the first heavy traffic days of the tourist season.
Part of road widening
It was rather critical this year because they've done third laning from Atlantic City west to Egg Harbor - a widening that is continuing westward. Those three lanes can deliver about 6,000 vehicles/hour vs 4,000 on the two lanes there a year ago for people returning home to the Philly area.
SJTA wanted to avoid the toll plaza becoming a choke point with three lanes on the approach.
Total cost of the open road toll conversion at the Egg Harbor Plaza was around $2 million.
CREDITS: Traffic Technologies Inc (TTI) of New Windsor NY were the toll system consultants and system integrators on the project. Civil design including the big tube gantries was by Louis Berger. Readers are IAG standard from Kapsch, cameras from JAI and vehicle detection and classification is via in-pavement smart electromagnetic loops from Federal Signal's Idris department.
TTI supplied the lane controllers and software.
They took over from MFS at SJTA when that company folded about ten years ago and have taken SJTA through their first open road tolling at the Pleasantville mainline plaza in 2004 and last year the new Interchange 17 toll system.
Photographer: M Kolb.