NJ-PA/I-80 bridge attracts motorists to open road electronic toll lane
By Peter Samuel
They call it the Express E-ZPass lane - what we call generically open road tolling (ORT). It's a single highway speed electronic toll lane on I-80 at the toll point for the Delaware Water Gap Bridge over the upper Delaware River between New Jersey and Pennsylvania near Stroudsburg PA. They opened it in a provisional configuration November 22 alongside five stop-to-pay cash lanes that also accept an E-ZPass transponder. (Tolling here is westbound only.)
The toll system upgrade replaces an eight lane stop-to-pay or roll-through speed E-ZPass transponder setup.
Already the single highspeed toll lane has greatly improved traffic flow and attracted a good proportion of motorists. In its first two weeks it was taking 42 percent of vehicles and more recently there have been a series of days with usage over 50%.
They don't expect construction work to be finished before the late spring, when the Express Lane will be restriped for greater width and get shoulders to the sides, plus the five cash/roll-through transponder lanes. They think the Express Lane will handle 2,000 vehicles/hour vs a maximum 400/hr in cash/roll-through transponder lanes.
(There's space at the toll point itself for a second highway speed toll lane but this would require rebuild of an overbridge further along to move bridge columns from its path.)
Executive director of the Delaware River Joint Toll Bridge Commission Frank McCartney is quoted in a statement as saying the new highway speed lane "is proving to be a very effective technological solution for reducing traffic congestion at the Delaware Water Gap Toll Bridge."
He urges cash customers who have been procrastinating on getting E-ZPass transponders for their vehicles to sign up for the service at www.ezpassdrjtbc.org or call 1 800 872 5061.
DRJTBC also have a line for comment on how the ORT lane is working: 1 866 651 6250.
Transponder accounts entitle motorists to frequent user discounts - 20 trips within a 35-day cycle generate an automatic 40 percent rebated discounts on their tolls, paying a 45c/toll vs the normal 75c toll for cars.
Owners of vehicles using the Express E-ZPass lanes without an E-ZPass transponder are mailed notices for payment of any tolls as well as fees - $25 per incident for a first notice and $35 per incident for a second notice.
First time mistake can get waiver of penalty
Motorists who enter the Express E-ZPass zone without a transponder are levied a $25 penalty fee for the first notice and $35 for the second but they can get a one-time waiver of the penalty fee by responding promptly and paying the toll.
If they don't they risk being pursed by the tollers' debt collectors.
Average daily traffic at the I-80 bridge last year was 53.9k, a slight improvement on 2008 but below the 55.9k high of 2006. The I-78 toll bridge downstream has overtaken the I-80 as DRJTBC's most traveled toll bridge.