Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday announced high-speed open road, cashless tolling will begin at the Grand Island toll barriers in March of 2018. The transition to cashless tolling will not affect the Grand Island resident discount program and will reduce congestion, improve safety, and reduce air pollution. As part of the transition to a more convenient and cost effective way to travel New York’s roadways, the Governor is encouraging all commuters to sign up for an E-ZPass and save on tolls across the state, including a five percent discount along the entire 570-mile New York State Thruway.
The Governor also unveiled the design and renderings of the Western New York Welcome Center, which will be located at Alvin Road on Grand Island adjacent to I-190, to support the state’s booming tourism industry by promoting local attractions, foods, craft beverages and other destinations throughout the region. The new welcome center is expected to be completed by August of 2018
“Grand Island is a vital connector for residents and tourists traveling to Buffalo, Niagara Falls and beyond, and with the addition of cashless tolling and a new welcome center, we are not only supporting a growing regional economy but also raising the profile of tourist attractions in communities across Western New York,” Governor Cuomo said. “By transitioning to cashless tolling, one of these most traveled roads in Western New York will become safer and less congested to help meet the needs of 21st century motorists, while providing commuters easy access to the new welcome center for generations to come.”
The Grand Island Bridges connect Grand Island on the Niagara Thruway (I-190) between Niagara Falls and the Town of Tonawanda. It is a main thoroughfare for commuters and visitors between the City of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. In 2016, approximately 23.7 million vehicles traveled through the Grand Island Toll Barriers, which translates to nearly 65,000 vehicles per day. In March of 2018, Grand Island will become the New York State Thruway Authority’s second all cashless tolling location. The first cashless tolling gantries were implemented on the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2016.
When open road, cashless tolling begins, the Thruway Authority will remove toll barriers at the North and South Grand Island Bridges. Toll barriers will be replaced with gantries that have sensors and cameras suspended over the highway. Gantries may be located in different locations than the toll barriers, however, tolling will be handled in the same manner. The sensor technology reads E-ZPass tags and takes license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop and pay the toll. Vehicles with E-ZPass tags are automatically charged, and vehicles without a tag have their license plate photographed. A toll bill will then be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.
Additionally, over the last ten years, approximately 80 percent of all accidents within a tenth of a mile of the Grand Island Toll Barriers were caused by “Following Too Close” or an “Unsafe Speed.” With the implementation of cashless tolling, the Thruway Authority expects accidents within these areas to be reduced.
Grand Island cashless tolling will begin construction in October and is expected to be completed by March 2018 – with projected savings for drivers reaching approximately 200 minutes per year.