The conveniences of E-ZPass electronic fare collection and automated cash machines are coming later this year to the 14-mile Amos K. Hutchinson Greensburg Bypass (Turnpike 66) in Westmoreland County and the 16-mile Beaver Valley Expressway (Turnpike 60) in Beaver and Lawrence counties.
At present, the commission utilizes a combination of manned lanes and exact-change coin baskets to collect fares on both highways, at mainline plazas and at facilities on entry and exit ramps. There are two mainline plazas on the Beaver Valley Expressway and one on the Hutchinson Bypass.
Turnpike CEO Joe Brimmeier said the combined $15.7 million worth of improvements to streamline fare collection on the expansion projects, which opened in the early 1990s, will be phased in over the spring, summer and fall.
"We will make our new E-ZPass lanes and automated cash machines operational as soon as they are ready," Brimmeier explained. "Signage will be used to inform customers of the availability of these new fare collection services. There is no need to wait and implement these changes in one grand sweeping motion."
E-ZPass lanes at the lone mainline plaza on the Hutchinson Bypass are expected to be operational by mid-May. Electronic fare collection services at the two mainline plazas on the Beaver Valley Expressway are expected to begin by mid-July.
All improvements should be completed by Summer 2007. The new, automated cash machines will be dual-height and will be able to return change and receipts. They will be programmed to accept coins and $1 and $5 bills.
The Pennsylvania Turnpike launched E-ZPass on a regional basis in December 2000. Electronic fare collection has been available on the entire Ohio-to-New Jersey mainline and most of the Interstate 476 Northeast Extension to Scranton since December 2002. In January 2006, 52.3 percent of all fare collection transactions system-wide were done electronically. It was the first month that figure topped 50 percent. Penetration is not as high in western Pennsylvania, where electronic collections have yet to hit 40 percent.
"We are committed to bringing E-ZPass to all of our toll roads but we have to balance these investments with other ongoing expenditures to enhance durability, capacity and safety on the oldest parts of our system," said Brimmeier. "This is all part of a larger commitment to upgrade the ground-transportation network throughout the Commonwealth."