Motorists traveling on the Tappan Zee Bridge will no longer be able to pay cash tolls while traveling the bridge, and only payments via E-ZPass or through the mail will be accepted, effective April 23.
The New York State Thruway Authority made the announcement on Monday, March 21, and is encouraging travelers to sign up for E-ZPass. The agency noted in a press release that cashless tolling is expected to reduce congestion along the three-mile bridge, as well as improve safety and reduce air pollution. Officials estimate the new procedure will save commuters about nine hours per year under the new program.
The Thruway Authority said there is a pay-by-mail option for drivers who don’t have an E-ZPass account. The mail payment is based on an automated system where cameras photograph your vehicle’s license plate as it passes under overhead equipment. A bill is then automatically sent to the registered owner via the U.S. Postal Service.
According to a report in the Journal News, starting at 12:01 a.m. on April 23, drivers will be able to maintain highway speeds through the cashless toll lanes on the Rockland County side if they have E-ZPass. But they will have to slow to 20 mph as they go through the unmanned toll plazas on the Westchester County side.
Lanes one through four of the toll plazas will be closed, and ultimately the entire toll plaza in Tarrytown will be removed. State Police will briefly close the road prior to the launch.
The report also states that the Thruway is anticipating about a $60,000 increase in unpaid tolls this year. However, the state implemented a new law in January that will crack down on toll evaders by suspending a driver’s registration if they fail to pay five tolls and fines on different days within an 18-month period.
Cashless tolls are part of the transition during the construction of a new $3.9 billion Tappan Zee Bridge set to open in 2018 next to the current bridge.
The Thruway Authority estimates about 50 million vehicles cross the 60-year-old bridge over the Hudson River annually. More than 80 percent of those vehicles have E-ZPass.