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NYC’s bridge and tunnel revamp gets an ambitious timeline

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By the end of 2017, tollbooths will be but a memory

Back in October, the Governor Cuomo unveiled The New York Crossing Project, a plan to revamp the city’s ground transportation infrastructure by replacing tollbooths with advanced toll-collecting sensors.

Designed to ease traffic and boost security, the project—which would also outfit bridges citywide with LED lighting displays in the name of public art (why not?)—was ambitiously slated for total completion by the end of 2017, with the Queens-Midtown and Hugh L. Carey Brooklyn Battery tunnels switching over to so-called open road tolling as soon as January.

Now, January is right around the corner, and according to an announcement from the governor’s office, it’s all happening: If all goes according to plan, the seven bridges operated by the MTA will indeed all have switched over by the end of the coming year. Here’s the anticipated timeline:

Hugh L. Carey Tunnel – January 2017

Queens Midtown Tunnel – January 2017

Rockaway Bridges – Spring 2017

RFK Bridge – Summer 2017

Verrazano-Narrows Bridge – Summer 2017

Throgs Neck Bridge – Fall 2017

Bronx-Whitestone Bridge – Fall 2017

The governor’s office walks us through exactly how that’s going to work:

“State-of-the-art sensors and cameras will be suspended over the highway on structures called ‘gantries’ that read E-ZPass tags and take license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop and pay a toll.”

As we’ve noted before, the plan for non-E-ZPass vehicles is … a little less elegant. Vehicles without the magic little tag will also have their license plates recorded, but instead of being charged immediately, the registered owners of those vehicles will receive a bill by mail every 30 days. (The MTA has historically had a bit of trouble actually collecting fares by mail, though the system laid out here is somewhat more aggressive.)

In the name of both fairness and counter-terrorism, the state is also upping security on the bridges, deploying 150 State Troopers to “key checkpoints” in order to “crack down on chronic toll evaders and enhance public safety.”

According to the governor’s office estimates, open road tolling will save commuters up to 21 hours of drive time every year, conserve about a million gallons of fuel, and save $2.3 million in gas each year.

“This project is a transformative investment in our future that revolutionizes statewide transportation and helps us build a new New York,” Governor Cuomo said in the release.