Old Roads, New Technology
Population growth and development take a toll on the condition of interstates in the U.S., many of which are in need of dire updates. In order to help fund road repairs, state and city transportation departments have incorporated toll roads as a way to help fund upkeep. But new technology is changing the way tolls are collected. All Electronic Tolling (AETs), for example, uses technology that eliminates cash toll ways and uses an electronic payment system.
Thanks to a test project with the New York State Bridge Authority (NYSBA) and the TIC traffic information collector, optimizing toll roads and ensuring better traffic flow are just two of the many benefits the NYSBA has seen.
Electronic tolling helps ensure a steady flow of traffic, which in the past had been a headache for toll users needing to stop at each toll booth to pay with cash or coins.
The Future of Toll Roads
On Sept. 13, 2013, the NYSBA installed a test system along Interstate 84 in Newburgh, N.Y. using SICK’s TIC traffic information collector on one of its five major bridges.
The TIC, which is mounted overhead, uses laser measurement technology to classify objects in multi-lane, free flowing applications.
The site was chosen due to the heavy flow of traffic on that roadway — between 50,000 and 60,000 vehicles per day — as well as the diverse range of vehicles that use this interstate. Frank Mazzella, manager of technical services and electronic toll systems, commented that this section of roadway sees a wide range of non-traditional vehicles, such as wide and heavy loads, making it ideal for testing a new system.
“The installation and configuration of SICK products, which took 2-3 days, was extremely easy. The TIC is installed on a road with a diverse classification of vehicles as well as a stop-and-go pattern,” said Mazzella. “We stop vehicles twice a day and with the TIC, we’re able to accurately separate the vehicles,” he continued.
In the next few months Mazzella and the team at SICK will complete a confidence level test. This will compare the day-to-day data of the new TIC system to the previous system. In the future, the NYSBA would also like to use the toll collection system to trigger license plate cameras.
“It has been a terrific fast-track project…from working with Project Manager Juan Bowers in Minnesota to the rest of the SICK personnel involved in the project, “stated Mazzella. “There were no surprises — everything was completed as planned.”
A Glimpse at U.S. Toll Roads
New York may be one of the first to use new technology on their roadways, but they certainly won’t be the last. The infographic below takes a quick look at some of the toll road statistics in the U.S.
For more information about the TIC traffic information collector, check out this video.
Have you used electronic tolling systems? If so, what has your experience been like?