CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Demolition of the old toll booths on the Massachusetts Turnpike started Sunday. All electronic tolling on the Mass Pike started Friday night with 16 gantries being placed along the 135 mile stretch of highway.
On Saturday morning the MassDOT reported their new system had already processed 215,000 transactions.
Jane Barker, of Chicopee told 22News, “I think it’s a shame. I do. I think modern technology is a wonderful thing, but when you take people out of the equation that you lose something.”
Demolition of the old toll booth lanes started Sunday morning. Contractors are working to remove the center lanes by November 22nd. During that time, traffic will be channeled through the outside lanes at a 15 mph speed limit.
Drivers are now cruising right on through, 32 of these toll booth plazas along the Mass Pike exits are being removed. Some of them have been around since the late 1950’s. For some drivers there is a feeling of nostalgia and loss after going through these toll booths on a weekday basis and speaking with the collectors.
477 full and part time MassDOT workers are being impacted by the change. About 120 have taken new jobs with MassDOT, 146 have taken early retirement or retirement offers, and the remaining 21 laid off.
Dorothy Thomas, of Springfield said, “The downfall is that they aren’t going to have a job, and yes they are just handing you the ticket but you don’t know, having a nice smile you don’t know what you’re doing for somebody else’s day.”
The overhead system scans your EZ Pass and takes a picture of your license plate. So if you don’t have an EZPass, you will get a bill in the mail with a surcharge. If you sign up for an EZPass within 6 months the MasssDOT will credit your account for the extra charges.
Phase two of demolition will start after the Thanksgiving Holiday when crews will work on removing the right and left lanes along with other structures. MassDOT anticipates that all toll plaza infrastructure will be removed by the end of 2017.