Drivers on Interstate 90 in Massachusetts can now put toll booth backups in their rearview mirror for good. In October 2016, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) went live with an all-electronic tolling (AET) system across all 140 miles of I-90, also known as the Massachusetts Turnpike, as well as the Tobin Bridge and Callahan, Sumner and Ted Williams Tunnels. MassDOT’s AET program, EZDriveMA, is increasing safety and convenience for travelers by replacing manual toll collection at on/off ramps with overhead toll gantries on the main line. Instead of dramatically reducing speeds and getting caught in toll plaza traffic, vehicles can now maintain highway speeds as they pass under the gantries. Drivers are tolled either by a pre-paid transponder or through the mail via license plate capture imaging.
CDM Smith provided infrastructure design engineering, tolling design support services, traffic management and program quality assurance services in support of the $130 million system—the largest and most complex AET project of its kind to be delivered under a design-build contract. The project was led by Raytheon Company, whose team also included Liddell Brothers, SPS New England and VHB.
As the lead infrastructure designer, CDM Smith’s team was responsible for structural analysis and design of 16 toll gantries, lane controller pads, modular building foundations, communication to existing fiber optic networks, electrical service to gantries, environmental permitting and traffic management. CDM Smith staff also worked closely with the project’s toll system design, development and testing group and supported the integration of the AET system with MassDOT’s new EZDriveMA account management system. Additionally, CDM Smith administered overall quality control on the project, reviewing and approving more than 250 civil design plans and specifications, toll system design documentation, toll system and equipment testing scripts and construction plans.
In addition to the EZDriveMA’s safety and traffic improvements, another big benefit of AET is lower operating costs. By eliminating its cash toll collection system, MassDOT will save on future toll plaza facility construction and manual toll equipment maintenance. This project represents a new opportunity in the toll industry in terms of toll systems procurement. This is a design-build-maintain contract for 10 years. This model—requiring the toll systems integrator to partner with engineers and contractors—could be the wave of the future for tolling agencies.
In July 2017 the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (IBTTA) named the project the winner of its Private Sector Innovation Award, given annually as part of IBTTA's International Toll Excellence Awards. The project was also one of 12 finalists nominated for the 2017 America's Transportation Awards competition, an annual competition sponsored by the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, AAA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.