necn Investigates: MassDOT Hopes New Tolls Will Curb Thousands Who Choose Not To Pay - NECN
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necn Investigates: MassDOT Hopes New Tolls Will Curb Thousands Who Choose Not To Pay



    With automated tolls coming, Massachusetts officials hope the new measures will prevent people from using toll roads without paying. (Published Friday, Oct. 7, 2016)

    If you take the Massachusetts Turnpike or the Tobin Bridge, you're supposed to pay a toll.

    However, necn Investigates has learned thousands of drivers are using the EZ-Pass lane and choosing not to pay.

    "I think that's awful. I think everybody should pay," Claire Lovell said.

    More than a million notices have been sent to delinquent drivers within the last year. The state argues it money it needs and used for a variety of things.

    "Fix[ing] the guardrails, the potholes, capital construction, policing it," said Tom Tinlin, MassDOT's Highway Administrator.

    The transportation agency is currently replacing the state's 26 toll plazas with 16 All Electronic Tolling (AET) gantries. MassDOT expects it will significantly reduce the number of drivers who don't pay.

    Last year, necn Investigates has learned, 309,014 drivers opted not to pay between Jan. 1 and July 30. During the same period this year, 345,450 opted not to pay. That's an increase of more than 36,000 drivers between 2015 and 2016.

    "There are some people getting away with it? That doesn't seem fair," said driver Gina Whipple.

    It's not just Massachusetts drivers avoiding the tolls. The state says from July 2015 to July 2016, eight percent of the delinquent drivers were from out of the state. One of every six drivers was from Connecticut. New Hampshire wasn't far behind, making up 13 percent of out of state violators.

    The state says the new gantries will capture violators red handed. The new gantries will capture a driver's license plate, car and speed. The information could be kept for up to seven years.

    "You don't pay, you go to the Registry of Motor Vehicles to re-register your vehicle or renew your driver's license," said Tinlin. "We can put a hold on those transactions and say, 'Hey, you need to pay MassDOT and pay your tolls."

    MassDOT says once your ticket is paid, your information will be purged from their system.

    The new electronic system has already been successful along the Tobin Bridge.

    "We collected between 95-96 percent of all monies owed to the taxpayers on our existing pay by plate program." Tinlin told necn Investigates.

    The new electronic tolling debuts Oct. 28.

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