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Cashless tolling, rate hike to begin Sunday on turnpike's Findlay Connector

Jeff Himler
| Wednesday, May 30, 2018, 1:06 a.m.
Vehicles pass through a toll plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Marshall Township, Wednesday, July 8, 2015.
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
Vehicles pass through a toll plaza on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Marshall Township, Wednesday, July 8, 2015.

Cashless tolling and increased rates are set to take effect Sunday on the Findlay Connector section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike's Southern Beltway in Allegheny and Washington counties.

Crews will remove coin baskets on that segment of the turnpike, and cash will no longer be accepted to pay tolls there.

Six on/off-ramp toll plazas will be removed. Instead, motorists will be billed electronically with equipment suspended from a gantry at milepost 2.6.

Trips that are now tolled between exits 1 and 2, and between exits 4 and 6, will be free under the new system. But rates for other trips on the connector, which remained unchanged for more than five years, will increase in line with toll hikes that took effect in January for most other parts of the turnpike.

According to the turnpike commission's online calculator, the basic toll for a passenger car using the connector will be $1 for those with an E-ZPass and $1.50 for those without.

Motorists who have a pass won't notice a difference in their payment process. For others, toll equipment will capture an image of their license plate, and a bill will be sent to the vehicle owner on record with PennDOT. Visit https://www.paturnpike.com/toll/tollmileage.aspx for more details of the new rates. A cashless tolling video can be seen at www.nocashzone.com .

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission will also replace its axle- and weight-based vehicle classification system with a new axle- and height-based system, as is used on the Ohio Turnpike and the New York State Thruway. The new system will detect the number of axles and the height between the first two axles, classifying vehicles that are over 7.5 feet as “high profile.”

The Findlay Connector cashless system had been expected to go online in April , but the date was delayed five weeks to allow for additional testing of the equipment with vehicle speeds of up to 70 mph.

“Agencies across the country are introducing cashless systems, and we owe it to customers to continue to use the best technology available in every facet of our operations,” Turnpike Commission CEO Mark Compton said in a news release.

The cashless system is meant to reduce costs, congestion and travel times while increasing safety, since motorists don't have to swerve in a plaza to find the proper lane.

Last spring, the commission converted the turnpike's Beaver Valley Expressway to cashless tolling.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622, jhimler@tribweb.com or via Twitter @jhimler_news.

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