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Narrows Bridge toll booths ‘Good To Go’

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) this week unveiled a new system that will allow commuters to breeze through the toll booths on the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge — provided they pay in advance, of course.

It’s called “Good To Go!,” and WSDOT Toll Systems Manager David Pope said it will keep thousands of drivers moving and be the “key to a faster, more reliable commute,” since it can eliminate the need to stop and pay.

During a presentation on Tuesday, WSDOT officials demonstrated how the system — which will be the first implementation of electronic toll collection in the state — works.

During a trial run, a small red car drove drove toward the toll booths and instead of stopping, bypassed them completely and slid through the “Good To Go!” lanes and underneath a line of scanners.

Of course, for commuters to do this in real life, they will first need to set-up a “Good To Go” account through the WSDOT. Each account holder is then given an “e-sticker” to put on their windshield. The sticker is then detected by scanners mounted above the pre-paid lanes and the bridge toll is automatically deducted.

Customers will be able to review their account activity on-line, or request a quarterly statement detailing usage. The account will be replenished from their credit card, debit card or auto draft check whenever the equivalent of three trips is left on the balance.

Drivers who do not set-up an account will need to stop at one of the toll booths and pay that way with cash, said WSDOT spokeswoman Claudia Cornish.

A car that drives by the scanners without an e-sticker will be detected, then cameras also mounted above will record its license plate number and the registered owner will be billed.

Cameras are also set up in each toll booth lane to catch drivers who do not pay at all, or not enough.

For those who cannot wait to set up their pre-paid accounts, Cornish said WSDOT will begin creating customer accounts and distributing e-stickers in preparation for next year’s electronic toll collection.

Until then, commuters can join an interest list online by visiting wsdot.wa.gov/goodtogo and clicking on a web link to receive updates on the system.

WSDOT will not just use the “Good To Go” system on the TNB. In 2008, it plans to implement it for new State-Route 167 High Occupancy Toll (HOT) lanes.

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