The switch to cashless tolls becomes permanent Tuesday at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.
Electronic tolls, which allow motorists to cross onto the bridge at Sandy Point at highway speeds, has been in place for several months, first as part of efforts to reduce backups during a major redecking project and then as part of social distancing efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.
The permanent all-electronic tolling system opening at the Bay Bridge Tuesday includes three highway-speed traffic lanes that will tie into the two existing lanes on the eastbound bridge and the one westbound contraflow (two-way) lane, the Maryland Transportation Authority said in announcing the date for the switch. Crews recently installed the new overhead tolling gantry across eastbound Route 50 between the bridge and Route 8 on Kent Island and are completing software installation and testing.
With all-electronic tolling, drivers don’t stop at toll booths. Tolls are collected via the overhead gantry through E-ZPass and video tolling payment methods.
State officials projected Bay Bridge drivers will save a combined 42,000 hours annually with all-electronic tolling. E-ZPass rates are as little as $1.40 daily. Motorists can enroll at ezpassmd.com.
A discounted $4 rate for motorists without EZPass will continue until 30 days after after the state of emergency declared because of the coronavirus pandemic ends. It will return to $6 who are billugh the video toll system.
Customers can start using the new Pay by Plate payment method on July 1. The option allows customers without a pass to register their license plate and credit card information. Pay by Plate customers with a two-axle vehicle will pay $4.
Also starting July 1, the Early Payment Discount provides customers with a 15% discount off the Video Toll rate when they pay their Notice of Toll Due within a specified timeframe and prior to the mailing of the notice.
Opening of permanent all-electronic tolling follows the completion last month of westbound right lane deck rehabilitation project in advance of the summer 2020 goal – and a year ahead of the initial construction schedule. Construction remains underway in the toll plaza area.
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The Bay Bridge will be Maryland’s third toll facility converted to all-electronic tolling, joining the Francis Scott Key Bridge on the Baltimore Beltway and the Thomas J. Hatem Memorial Bridge on Route 40 between Harford and Cecil counties. The Intercounty Connector in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties and the I-95 Express Toll Lanes in Baltimore have utilized all-electronic tolling since opening.