Marshall Township – Pennsylvania Turnpike officials today, Wednesday, June 2, 2004, introduced Express E-ZPass at the Warrendale Mainline Toll Plaza, the western terminus of the Turnpike's ticket system located in Allegheny County.
Turnpike CEO Joseph Brimmeier, driving in a Dodge Pickup truck, circa 1940 – the year the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened for business, officially opened the Express E-ZPass lane. The express lane will allow E-ZPass customers entering the Pennsylvania Turnpike ticket system at Warrendale, traveling eastbound; to become the first Pennsylvania drivers to experience a new, customer-friendly service called Express E-ZPass. An Express E-ZPass lane for westbound E-ZPass customers will open at Warrendale on June 26.
The Warrendale Mainline Toll Plaza (#30) in Western Pennsylvania is the state's first location for the installation of Express E-ZPass where customers can travel at highway speed through a specially designated express lane at the toll plaza and have their toll paid electronically.
Until today, E-ZPass customers have had to slow down to 5 mph as they proceeded through the E-ZPass lanes at the Warrendale toll plaza. The new speed limit for E-ZPass customers in the Express E-ZPass lanes will be 55 mph.
“Getting through the toll facility faster means that you have more time at home or at work, whatever the destination,” said Brimmeier. “Certainly, with everyone's hectic lives and busy lifestyles, we can all use a little more time.”
Brimmeier said that other locations for installation of Express E-ZPass are being considered at other mainline toll plazas like Gateway #2, M52 on the Mon/Fayette Expressway, the proposed I-95 interchange, Delaware River Bridge #359, and Mid-County #20 and Wyoming Valley #115 on the Northeastern Extension. Specific time frames for installation have not been determined.
“We've made the commitment to make E-ZPass even better by installing this new technology at Warrendale, the western terminus of our ticket system,” he concluded. “Not only will Express E-ZPass enhance and increase convenience for our customers, we're confident it will reduce congestion and increase safety at the plaza.”
The Express E-ZPass lanes at Warrendale are physically separated from the current E-ZPass lanes and ticket lanes by means of concrete median barrier. E-ZPass motorists will use the left-hand lane approaching the facility, while cash-paying customers should stay to the right.
Turnpike officials emphasized that both ticket and E-ZPass customers must pay special attention to new signs posted approaching the Warrendale Plaza. They added that if a customer mistakenly enters the express lanes, the customer should definitely not stop or even slow down but keep traveling. “Stopping or slowing down with oncoming traffic is dangerous and creates a serious safety hazard,” said Brimmeier.
Since the start of E-ZPass on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, three and a half years ago, more than a half million E-ZPass transponders have been issued to Pennsylvania Turnpike customers. The Commission records 5.5 million E-ZPass transactions a month. Nearly 42 percent of all toll transactions, passenger and commercial, are E-ZPass transactions, and at some of the Turnpike's busiest interchanges, that number increases to over 50 percent.
“E-ZPass is a tremendous success,” said Brimmeier. “And with Express E-ZPass, we are building on that success. It's what our customers want and deserve and we have every intention of serving and satisfying them.”
He added that in the Commission's continuing effort to enhance E-ZPass and respond to growing E-ZPass enrollment, 18 additional E-ZPass entry lanes will be added at interchanges across the system over the next few months. Interchanges that will get additional E-ZPass lanes include Gateway # 2, Butler Valley #39, Allegheny Valley #49, Pittsburgh #57, Irwin #67, Breezewood #161, Harrisburg East #247, Valley Forge #326, Philadelphia # 351 and Mid-County #20.