Media & Public Relations

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Carl DeFebo
Manager, Media & Public Relations
Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission
Desk (717) 920-7176

July 25 , 2007


Express E-ZPass Lane Opens Thursday at Pa. Turnpike's Gateway Toll Plaza

Lane will enable eastbound E-ZPass traffic to breeze through
plaza without slowing down.

   Pennsylvania Turnpike officials announced today that an Express E-ZPass lane will open tomorrow at 11 p.m. at the Gateway toll plaza (exit #2) in North Beaver Township, Lawrence County. The express lane where E-ZPass motorists can drive at highway speed while their toll is paid electronically serves only eastbound traffic coming into Pennsylvania, since there is no westbound (or exiting) toll charged there.

About 11,000 vehicles a day come into Pennsylvania from Ohio via the Gateway plaza, the Pennsylvania Turnpike's westernmost toll-collection facility; 22 percent of those are commercial vehicles such as tractor-trailer trucks and buses. The flat fee charged at Gateway is $3 for two-axle vehicles and $3 for each additional axle up to 6 axles.

Moving traffic more quickly and efficiently through our toll plazas is a commission priority, said Turnpike CEOJoe Brimmeier. Not only will Express E-ZPass enhance and increase convenience for our customers, we're confident it will help alleviate congestion and increase mobility through the interchange.

Gateway located about 1.5 miles east of the Ohio border is Pennsylvania?s third highway-speed toll plaza. Express E-ZPass was first introduced in the commonwealth in June, 2004 with the opening of two express lanes at Warrendale toll plaza (#31) in Allegheny County. The Mid-County interchange (#20) in Montgomery County became the state's second highway-speed toll plaza when four express lanes opened there in October, 2005.

Before express lanes, E-ZPass customers in Pennsylvania have had to slow down to 5 mph as they proceeded through the E-ZPass lanes. Now, E-ZPass customers traveling east on I-76 can use Express E-ZPass lanes at 55 mph. (There is no toll charged at Gateway for westbound, or exiting traffic).

The Express E-ZPass lane at Gateway is physically separated from the cash lanes by means of concrete barrier. E-ZPass customers should keep to the far left approaching the toll plaza, while cash-paying customers should stay right. Gateway will continue to operate five cash lanes; lanes #1-5 will still be cash only. If an E-ZPass motorist misses the express-lane entrance, one traditional (5 mph) E-ZPass lane will be available; it will be lane #6, set to the left of the cash tollbooths.

A second eastbound express lane will open at Gateway in about 12-15 months after construction work is finished on an adjacent turnpike rebuild project in late 2008.

Turnpike officials emphasized that motorists must pay close attention to new signs approaching Gateway. If a cash-paying customer mistakenly enters the express lane, they should just keep traveling. Stopping or slowing down with incoming traffic is dangerous and creates a serious hazard, said Brimmeier. Instead, we want customers who mistakenly get into the express lane to continue traveling. Customers should not attempt to stop, pull over or back up in the express lanes; violations cameras will photograph license plates of non-E-ZPass vehicles in the express lanes, and a notice will be sent in the mail. When the notice arrives, motorists can appeal the violation by returning the accompanying form along with an explanation of what happened and payment for the toll due.

Since the launch of E-ZPass in December, 2000, the program has experienced exceptional growth. The Turnpike today manages 584,000 E-ZPass accounts with 860,000 Pennsylvania-issued transponders, or tags, in use. The commission logs more than 7.5 million E-ZPass transactions a month (or 240,000 daily). On average, about half of all toll transactions are E-ZPass transactions.

Joseph B. Fay Co., Tarentum, Pa., was general contractor for the $22 million project to build the express lanes; it also included the total reconstruction of 2.25 miles of Turnpike roadway and conversion of the Gateway plaza to one-way tolling. Work on the project was begun in January 2006.