ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY, MD — The Maryland Transportation Authority will launch the Chesapeake Bay Bridge’s new full-time all-electronic system May 12, weather permitting. Since March 17, in an effort to promote social distancing during the coronavirus emergency, temporary cashless tolling has been in place statewide to protect drivers and toll collectors by eliminating interaction at the toll booths.
MDTA front line employees and contractors have been working to keep this infrastructure project on schedule. The permanent all-electronic tolling system at the Bay Bridge 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. Crews recently installed the new overhead tolling gantry across eastbound US 50 between the bridge and MD 8 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. The system provides convenience for motorists, less engine idling for better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, decreased congestion and increased safety. Bay Bridge drivers will save a combined, estimated 42,000 hours annually with all-electronic tolling.
“As we convert Maryland toll facilities to all-electronic tolling, now is the time for cash customers to sign-up for E-ZPass® Maryland,” said MDTA Executive Director James F. Ports, Jr. in a statement.
Even though full-time all-electronic tolling will begin May 12 at the Bay Bridge, the MDTA will extend the time drivers without E-ZPass will be charged the cash rate of $4, giving customers more time to sign up and get an E-ZPass through the mail. Effective 30 days after Maryland’s coronavirus state of emergency is lifted, bridge drivers without E-ZPass will be charged the video toll rate of $6. During non-summer months, up to 90 percent of Bay Bridge drivers already use E-ZPass and, overall, 74 percent of Bay Bridge drivers are E-ZPass® customers. Effective July 1, non-E-ZPass motorists also can take advantage of a new pay by plate payment option and an early payment discount to save money compared to the video toll rate.
E-ZPass Customer Service Centers, including those at Maryland Department of Transportation Motor Vehicle Administration branches, are closed due to the coronavirus state of emergency.