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Accelerating electronic toll collection

By: Jack Nerad for Driving Today

Date: Sunday, 28. September 2008

If you've ever waited in a long queue of cars to pay a toll, you know how frustrating it can be. So it has to come as good news that entrepreneurs are doing something about the problem. TransCore, a leader in electronic toll-collecting systems, has just begun construction of a world-class test track to develop sophisticated open road tolling (ORT) wireless applications. The goal is to design systems without toll gates, eliminating highway bottlenecks.

The new Albuquerque track will serve as a hub for electronic toll collection design innovations. Since the mid-1990s some toll roads have used express-lane formats for open road tolling, and the new test track will evaluate expanded wireless design scenarios that contemplate the complete elimination of barriers, enabling free flow of traffic among multiple lanes. The company's previous systems are already in use on the Oklahoma Turnpike, Dallas North Tollway and the George Bush Turnpike in TK.

Testing in New Mexico first began in 1985 during the early days of the technology. The new and larger track, located at Albuquerque's Fiesta Balloon Festival Park, is one-third of a mile long, with six lanes at its widest point and three lanes at its narrowest. It is equipped with the latest innovations in automatic vehicle identification technology.

With the enormous increase in traffic nationally, the need to eliminate choke points on high-traffic thoroughfares has accelerated. During the late 80s and early 90s, electronic toll collection helped to decrease vehicle lines at toll plazas dramatically. Building on this successful model, toll authorities are looking for ways to further speed vehicles through toll plazas. Open road tolling allows electronic toll collection transactions to occur under normal highway driving conditions, eliminating plaza barriers and creating a new toll road design that helps alleviate congestion.

Oklahoma's PIKEPASS system is the first and largest open-road Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) system in the world, allowing motorists to automatically pay tolls at highway speeds. Developed in the early 1990s, it is a statewide system, encompassing nearly 600 miles, 10 turnpikes, 453 lanes and more than 500,000 users. In 2000, TransCore was awarded a $33 million contract to upgrade and replace the entire toll collection system and add 164 new ETC lanes. Ultimately, as more and more motorists migrate to electronic toll payment, toll authorities imagine roads that are primarily an open-road design, eliminating toll plaza congestion, improving motorist safety and controlling operational costs.

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I have been so bewildeerd in the past but now it all makes sense!

Nanu Narayanan,

Enna parayaaana electronic toll collectione patti jnangalkku valiya idea onnum illaa ivide NH47 il 5 rooopa koduthal mathi sadeesan chettan pokkitharum pinne ee toll kodukkan mathram electronics jnangade kayyil evidunna?..


You might take a look at the original North American example, Highway 407 north of Toronto in Ontario Canada.

However, be aware that this one was sold (read 'given away') to a Spanish consortium (leased for 99 years!) in what was a very bad deal.

Todd Bezold,

WE are trying to get the Maine Turnpike Authority to not build a 21 lane toll plaza and completly convert to ORT. We need a lits of US highways that have soley ORT. And other help as well.

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