Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced construction has begun on high-speed, open road, cashless tolling locations that will replace toll barriers at the Grand Island crossings in March 2018. The work marks phase one of the transition to cashless tolling on Grand Island which is projected to save drivers approximately 200 minutes per year once fully operational. 

“By removing toll booths at the Grand Island crossings, we are eliminating an obstacle that has cost Western New Yorkers time and money, impacted potential tourism opportunities and helped slow growth for the entire area” Governor Cuomo said. “By installing this state-of-the-art technology, the State of New York is saying Grand Island is open for business and will improve the travel experience for residents and visitorsalike.” 

As part of phase one, Oakgrove Construction from Elma, NY, will be performing shoulder reconstruction work that includes the excavation and removal of the asphalt shoulder, replacement of the sub-base with a new stone sub-base and installation of asphalt along with a new drainage system. Additionally, within the next week crews will begin installing pre-fabricated concrete slabs that will serve as the driving surface at the cashless tolling locations. Overnight and weekend lane closures are expected as crews progress with this critical phase. Work will take place northbound after the South Grand Island Bridge before exit 18A (Grand Island Boulevard – NY Route 324 West) and southbound after the North Grand Island Bridge before exit 20A (West River Parkway). Variable Message Signs will alert motorists of lane closures and possible delays. All work is weather dependent. 

“As a lifelong Western New Yorker, and as someone who has led the fight for fair tolling since my days on the Hamburg Town Council, I know firsthand how frustrating waits at toll barriers have been for families and businesses,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “The transition to cashless tolling on Grand Island will eliminate a major commuter bottleneck, grow the local tourism industry, and reduce vehicle emissions in accordance with our environmental goals.”

“When cashless tolling becomes operational on Grand Island, it will reduce congestion and improve safety for the tens of thousands of residents, commuters, and tourists alike that travel the Niagara Thruway each day,” said Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll. “This state-of-the-art technology will also help the environment by reducing idling which will cut pollution, creating a cleaner and greener Grand Island.”

When open road, cashless tolling begins, the Thruway Authority will remove toll barriers at the North and South Grand Island Bridges. Gantries will be located in different locations than the toll barriers, however, tolling will be handled in the same manner. 

In early 2018, crews will begin erecting gantries that have sensors and cameras suspended over the highway that include state-of-the-art technology which reads E-ZPass tags and takes license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop to pay the toll. Vehicles with E-ZPass tags are automatically charged, and vehicles without a tag have their license plate photographed and a toll bill will then be mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle. The transition to cashless tolling will not affect the Grand Island resident discount program.

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 2018, Grand Island will become the New York State Thruway Authority’s second all cashless tolling location. The first cashless tolling gantry was implemented on the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge in 2016.

Additionally, over the last 10 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. 

As part of the transition to a more convenient and cost effective way to travel New York’s roadways, the Thruway Authority is encouraging all motorists to sign up for E-ZPass NY and save on tolls across the state, including a five percent discount along the entire 570-mile New York State Thruway.