Converting the Mass Pike to All-Electronic Tolling

Converting the Mass Pike to All-Electronic Tolling
Massachusetts Department of Transportation Massachusetts, USA
As lead infrastructure engineer, CDM Smith helped deliver America’s largest, most complex all-electronic tolling system design-build project.

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.

toll gantries designed by CDM Smith
miles converted to all-electronic tolling
largest tolling design-build project of its kind
While many of the new U.S. toll facilities built in recent years have been developed with electronic toll collection, MassDOT’s project is very unique in the toll industry because it is a true all-electronic, open road tolling with no cash option. MassDOT is strongly encouraging drivers to obtain E-ZPass transpon­ders and those that choose not to join the E-ZPass program are able to pay their toll using a sophis­ti­cated video tolling program. By removing the toll booths completely, MassDOT expects to reduce traffic congestion and improve safety signif­i­cantly for drivers.

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.

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