East Coast states update toll collection procedures

October 23, 2020

Tyson Fisher


Whether it is a virus or a natural disaster, nature has caused issues for tolls across the nation. Billing resumes in one state, cashless tolling restored in another and a toll suspension has been extended at another location.

Throughout the country, several toll roads have suspended toll collection to provide much needed financial relief as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down large swaths of the economy. Slowly but surely, toll collection begins to resume.

The North Carolina Turnpike Authority has announced it will resume billing procedures for late payments for NC Quick Pass invoices. Collection will begin on Monday, Oct. 26. Since April 3, invoice past due procedures were suspended as unemployment began to increase as a result of stay-at-home orders.

Meanwhile, further north, the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York will temporarily restore cash toll collection at the Lincoln Tunnel and upper level of the George Washington Bridge. That process will also begin on Oct. 26. For five-axle trucks, that means forking over $110 if paying with cash or by mail without an E-ZPass. The Holland Tunnel will remain cashless permanently as the installation of an all-electronic tolling system will be completed in the next 60 days.

In Florida, the suspension of tolls at the Garcon Point Bridge has been extended until 6 a.m. Friday, Nov. 13. Originally, the toll collection suspension was set to expire on Oct. 23.

Hurricane Sally ripped through the area in September, causing severe damage to the Pensacola Bay Bridge. During the storm, runaway barges struck the bridge, forcing the closure. Since then, the Garcon Point Bridge is being used as a temporary detour route. The Pensacola Bay Bridge has a targeted reopening date of early March 2021. Updates can be found at FDOT.gov/PensacolaBay.

The pandemic has caused toll revenues to plummet this year. Even on roads that continued toll collection, stay-at-home orders significantly reduced traffic. On Aug. 19, the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association released its five-month update on the state of transportation during the pandemic. IBTTA, an association for owners and operators of toll facilities, reported that although the situation is better it is still experiencing “significant impacts.” An update held in May revealed traffic volumes down as much as 80% at some toll facilities, costing the toll industry tens of millions of dollars.

IBTAA requested more than $9 billion in federal funding earlier this year. Issued on April 7, IBTTA’s letter to Congress asks for the money to be included in Phase 4 emergency relief “to offset the huge loss in toll revenues expected in the next 12 months.” LL