By Ben Fractenberg
INWOOD — The MTA removed foam gates on the Henry Hudson Bridge Tuesday allowing drivers with an E-ZPass to cruise through three toll lane at 15 mph without stopping.
"There's a better way to collect tolls in the 21st century, and it's called all-electronic tolling," MTA Chairman Jay Walder said in a statement. "By removing the gate arms today we begin the process of ushering in this new era in toll collection. If all goes according to plan, by next year the Henry Hudson Bridge will be the first cashless bridge in the country, reducing travel times for drivers and expenses for the MTA."
People crossing the bridge, which connects Inwood with The Bronx, without an E-ZPass would have their license photographed and a bill would be sent to the address on their car’s registration.
"The elimination of the toll booth gates is an important first step in moving to a cashless tolling system of the Henry Hudson Bridge. This is a positive change for commuters," Manhattan City Councilman Robert Jackson said in the same statement. "My constituents will also benefit indirectly from the speedier flow of traffic and reduction in vehicle idling."
There will be three gateless E-ZPass lanes and three cash only lanes during the testing phase of the program while the camera technology is assessed.
The agency said they chose the bridge because of the high number of commuters with an E-ZPass and because there was no commercial traffic. The plan was recommended in a report released last year.
Those who are tempted to drive through the express lane without an E-ZPass could receive an unwelcome letter in the mail.
"Make no mistake; if you go through a gateless E-ZPass lane without a tag you will receive a toll violation notice in the mail," said MTA Bridges and Tunnels President Jim Ferrara, "so it is important for drivers to use the correct lane."
But for those with the small grey device on their windshield, commuting over the bridge could become a little quicker.
"Our message to E-ZPass customers at the Henry Hudson is simple," said Ferrara, "Don't stop, keep moving!"