Public invited to comment on plan to eliminate cash tolls on Tobin Bridge; officials say E-ZPass use will cut congestion, save funds

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation will hold the first of six public meetings tonight to discuss the transition to electronic-only tolling on the Tobin Bridge, which is slated to begin early next year.

The DOT’s plan calls for the elimination of cash toll booths on the bridge, and all tolls to be paid by E-ZPass electronic transponders, which will be available for free at the meeting at 6 p.m. in the Lynn City Hall Chamber.

In the next several years, the DOT hopes to institute electronic-only, open-road tolling on the Massachusetts Turnpike and in the Logan International Airport tunnels as well.

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DOT Secretary Richard A. Davey has said that once electronic tolling is in place across the Commonwealth it could save the state $50 million a year in reduced operating costs — in large part by reducing the number of toll employees by around three-quarters.

Renovations to the Tobin Bridge, Turnpike, and airport tunnels are estimated to cost around $120 million, he said.

The new tolling system would eliminate stop-and-go toll booths. In the “open-road” system, drivers will be able to travel at highway speeds through the tolling locations while overhead scanners register their E-ZPass transponder and charge the toll to a credit or debit card registered to the account.

People who do not have a transponder will have their license plates photographed and received a bill in the mail.

The DOT has said the system would also reduce congestion and pollution.

DOT representatives will be available tonight at the meeting to answer questions and register drivers for the E-ZPasses, DOT spokeswoman Sara Lavoie said.

The department will hold similar meetings in Winthrop, Chelsea, Salem, Revere, and Saugus throughout June.

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