Georgia Toll to buy multiprotocol readers from both Federal Signal and TransCore

February 23, 2011

Georgia State Road and Toll Authority (SRTA or 'Certur') formally announced today that they will buy multiprotocol reader equipment and service from both Federal Signal and TransCore.  The Federal Signal (previously Sirit) equipment will be used mainly for tolling on the I-85 Express or HOT lanes due to begin by late summer. That contract is finalized.

Gena Evans, executive director SRTA is quoted in a statement today: "We are pleased to have two of the toll industry's leading equipment suppliers agreeing ton provide us multiprotocol readers. Having equipment choices  from multiple vendors gives the flexibility to meet Georgia's current and future needs for a variety of toll facility configurations. Further, the use of multiprotocol readers also opens the door for future interoperability with other states."

A contract is in final stages of negotiation with TransCore for supply of multiprotocol readers too. It is expected these will be used mainly for upgrade of the GA400 toll road which already has TransCore equipment, and is serviced by TransCore.

The multiprotocol readers must be able to read the TransCore supplied eGo series transponders, an ISO 18000 6B sticker tag which also has proprietary security keys owned by TransCore plus the later generation open standard ISO 18000 6C sticker tags.

The immediate need for the multiprotocol readers is to support the existing TransCore 6B plus sticker tags in use on the GA400 tollroad with the brand-name CRUISE CARD, while the later generation 6C sticker tags are introduced under the brand-name PEACH PASS.  On the I-85 Express  Lanes to the northeast of the city most of the transponder users will be new customers getting the PEACH PASS 6C tags, but being able to read the 6B CRUISE CARD will be helpful in catering to vehicles roaming across both facilities.

CRUISE CARD tags will be steadily phased out on GA400 Toll in a transition to the PEACH PASS 6C tags.

The TransCore 6B plus tags are in wide use in Florida and Texas. SRTA would like to be able to read those tags, when vehicles go through the Atlanta area. They go under brandnames Sun Pass Mini and E-PASS in Florida and TxTag, EZ TAG, and Toll Tag in Texas.

18 lanes at GA400 Toll

All 18 lanes at GA400 toll plaza will be equipped with the new readers. The pairs of open road lanes each direction through this plaza only need a single reader each direction. Transponder tolling is presently available only for 2-axle vehicles on GA400, mainly a commuter route to the northern suburbs. There is no automatic vehicle classification and multi-axle vehicles are required to suet he cash or roll-through transponder lanes to the sides.

I-85 Express to have 9 toll zones, 37 gantry points

The I-85 Express lanes will extend for 15.6 miles, 25km northeast of Atlanta and consist of a conversion of a pair of existing HOV lanes to HOT or toll lanes with eligible high occupancy vehicles traveling at no toll.  There are four toll zones southbound and five northbound, but there will be 37 gantry points for toll equipment. These points will will have laser profilers for vehicle classification and select entry and exit points to the rightside general purpose lanes. They will be separated by a double white line but will have surveillance for enforcement.

Enrollment for the new PEACH PASS transponder accounts is due to begin this spring.

BACKGROUND: The Georgia 400 tollroad which opened in 1991 was one of the first in the country to employ open road tolling through the middle (2 lanes each direction) with seven cash or transponder roll-through toll lanes to the rightside each direction at the mainline toll plaza.

The upgrade was initiated in 2009 but put on hold for a while because of uncertainty over the future of tolling. Resumption followed a decision by the Governor and legislature last September to continue tolls on the GA400 at least through 2020.

The 6.2 mile 10km 2x3 lanes tollroad is inside the perimeter I-285 belt route and provides a direct connection between downtown I-75/85 to the free GA400 to the north and to I-285 tollroad.

It has been highly successful financially. Always well ahead of initial traffic and revenue projections it now runs 120k vehicles/day. Original bonds used for financing the construction were close to being paid off. (CORRECTION) This led to the suggestion the road should be detolled - based on an old notion that tolls are for funding initial construction only, and the natural state of a road is to be supported by taxes.

However the Georgia state government put the detoll idea aside last fall saying the net revenues of GA400 Toll could support a bunch of unfunded road improvements over the next ten years and SRTA should plan on tolling GA400 through at least 2020.

North of the perimeter I-285 GA400 has always been a free road funded by gas taxes. But tax revenues for its upgrade have to compete with many other projects around the metro area and state.

At one time it was intended to extend GA400 south from I-85 through eastern Atlanta parallel with the I-75/85 segment in the downtown to meet I-685 at the Perimeter I-285. Much of this would have to be in tunnel to be acceptable. The project was much fought over, declared 'dead' more than once, but still has an appeal for improving mobility and reducing travel times. Odds seem against any early movement however.

CORRECTION: North Carolina is not adopting 6C currently, their multiprotocol readers will be reading the IAG protocol and Transcore's eGo+ 6B tags.

TOLLROADSnews 2011-02-22

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