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Md. looks at moving to all-electronic tolls

Saturday - 3/31/2012, 7:46am  ET

Max Smith, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Maryland is considering getting rid of toll booths, and replacing them with all-electronic toll systems like the one used on the Intercounty Connector and the soon-to-open Express Lanes on I-95 and the Beltway in Virginia.

"It's something we're interested in doing. It's something the industry is moving toward. But it's complicated and we're in the earliest stages," Maryland Transportation Authority Executive Secretary Harold Bartlett tells the Baltimore Sun.

An MdTA study finds the idea is feasible, and suggests starting with the I-95 toll in northern Maryland, then working on converting the Bay Bridge before moving on to the state's other tolling facilities. The study says the switch would cost up to $180 million.

On all-electronic toll roads and bridges, E-ZPass users are automatically charged as they would be at a toll booth. Drivers without E-ZPass get a bill in the mail, and usually pay a higher rate.

Switching to all-electronic tolling can also help speed up traffic, and reduce time spent idling at toll plazas, which might be part of what's behind a 2002 U.S. Department of Transportation study that found adding electronic tolling can cut down on pollution.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)