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The ICC: the Most Technologically Advanced Toll Highway in the U.S.

February 22, 2011 3 comments

The Intercounty Connector (ICC) will be unique in that it is the only all-electronic toll road in the U.S that can collect tolls at highway speed.  That’s right — there are absolutely no toll booths to collect money, so you don’t have to slow down to pay.  The ICC will use the E-ZPass system, an electronic toll collection system.  Many other U.S. toll roads already use E-ZPass nationwide, but drivers on those roads still have to slow down to about ten miles per hour or less for their E-ZPass to be read properly.

Can you imagine not dealing with the hassle of having long waits in traffic congestion to enter a toll highway?  There is another all-electronic toll road collection system currently in place in western Canada, also the first of its kind. 

How is electronic toll collection possible?

This high tech solution entails antennas “reading” the vehicle-mounted E-ZPass transponders and deducting the cost of the trip from the driver’s prepaid account.  If the vehicle doesn’t have a transponder, cameras will take pictures of the vehicle’s license plate and the owner will receive a “Notice of Toll Due” in the mail along with a $3 surcharge.

The first stretch (7.2 miles) of the ICC will now open at 6AM Wednesday February 23.  Until March 7, no tolls or surcharges will be collected.  The remaining two stretches will open later this year and by spring of next year.

New E-ZPass offices are now open in Gaithersburg and Beltsville Maryland (MVA) for those who want to sign up.  Toll prices have also been set, and they will vary depending on what time of day you pass through.  

A word to the wise: you might want to stick to the speed limit as the E-ZPass antenna reads your transponder.  If you zoom past at a higher speed than the posted speed limit, you could end up with a nasty speeding ticket.  Happy driving!

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Who Turned Out the Lights on Our Highways??

February 1, 2011 Leave a comment

Is it just me, or have our highways gotten pretty dark lately?  And I’m not just talking about the fact that, during this time of year, days are shorter because of Daylight Savings Time.  I’m talking about the fact that someone apparently decided that highway drivers no longer need lighted streetlamps for early morning/evening commutes.

What’s going on?

I don’t have any proof really, but on a hunch, I’d say it’s an effect of The Great Recession.  We already know that cash-strapped states and municipalities have been cutting expenses wherever they can.  The result?  No light on our highways — use your own headlights if you want to see where you’re going! 

Desperate times call for desperate measures

While it’s true that desperate times call for desperate measures, what about traffic safety?  What about being able to have decent visibility on those long stretches of road — especially in cases of emergency?    

I understand that decision-makers are probably doing this to conserve because times are really bad.  But when things get a little better, will someone please turn the lights back on?

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