A toll road is also known as a turnpike, tollway, or toll plaza. A toll road is a public or private road where a fee is assessed for passage. Toll roads exist to help recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance.
Toll fees are collected at toll plazas, toll booths, toll houses, stations, bars, or gates. In addition to toll roads, authorities also use toll bridges and toll tunnels to collect funds to repay the cost to build the structure and for repairs and maintenance. For example, the George Washington Bridge has tolls for vehicles going eastbound from New Jersey into Manhattan.
Toll prices vary and depend on location, vehicle type, weight, or the number of axles. Freight trucks are often charged more than passenger cars. Additionally, the amount can depend on the time of day and the payment method. For example, the GW Bridge’s tolls are $16.00 for cars paying in cash, $13.75 for E-ZPass customers during peak hours, and $11.75 for E-ZPass customers during off-peak hours.
Tolls have existed for centuries, initially levied on travelers traveling on foot, horseback, or wagon. This practice was continued with automobiles. Tolls are often criticized for the time it takes to stop and pay the toll and the toll booth operators whose salary costs about one-third of total toll revenue.
How Are Tolls Collected
Tolls are collected in a few different ways.
Many tolls are collected via election toll collection equipment to minimize costs and time. This equipment automatically communicates with a transponder located on each vehicle or uses automatic plate recognition to charge drivers by debiting their accounts. E-ZPass is an electronic toll collection system used on most toll roads in the Midwestern and Eastern United States.
Some tolls are autonomous, and the driver deposits money in a machine, which automatically counts the money and opens the gate once the correct amount is paid.
Some tolls have an operator who collects the money from the driver, counts it, and opens the gate.
What States Have Toll Roads?
Not every U.S. state has a toll road. If you live in a state with toll roads, you likely won’t feel blindsided by paying some extra money when traveling out-of-state. If you reside in a state with no toll roads, it’s essential to know if you’re traveling through or has toll roads. This is so you can remember to bring some cash and coins with you or refill your E-ZPass account.
As of January 2014, the following states have never had any toll roads:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
The following states have tolls:
- Georgia (express lanes only)
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New York
- North Carolina
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
Connecticut used to have toll roads, which were removed in 1988.