Though it may seem like it, not every state has toll roads. And while some have entire toll road systems separate from the public highway systems, some states may only have one stretch or road, highway, or tunnel that has a toll.
For example, Alaska has a single toll tunnel, the Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel, sometimes called the Whittier tunnel. But due to the existence of this one example in the table above, we have to say, “yes, Alaska has tolls.”
When looking into the subject, be sure to dig further into the states of your interest before traveling through them so as not to encounter any unexpected costs.
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.
Along with the District of Columbia, the following states don’t currently have any toll roads:
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- South Dakota
States with Toll Roads, Technically
Alaska, as we previously mentioned, only has one toll road. Vermont only has tolls for vehicles heading up to the summit or peaks of mountains within the state. Other states with similar situations of one tollway or tunnel include
- Louisiana (Louisiana Highway 1 Bridge, Lake Pontchartrain Causeway)
- Minnesota (International Falls Bridge, Fargo-Moorhead Toll Bridge)
- Missouri (Lake of Ozarks Community Bridge)
- Nebraska (Bellevue Bridge, Plattsmouth Bridge)
- Oregon (Hood River-White Salmon Interstate Bridge, the Bridge of the Gods)
- Rhode Island (Claiborne Pell Bridge)
- Utah (Adams Avenue Parkway)
What Are Tollways?
A toll road is also known as a turnpike, tollway, or toll plaza. Generally, they are public or private roads 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 of building 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
There are four ways tolls are collected in the United States, by the operator, with a transponder, via collection machines, and with a newer system called “pay-by-plate.”
An operator will man the toll and collect money from the driver, count it, and opens the gate. Other collection systems have been implemented to minimize cost and time, so few tolls drivers pass will have a collector. Another system that is unutilized is collection machines, but these often require exact change, and with the popularization of electronic transactions, these are becoming less and less common.
If you spend any time near a toll collection center, you’ll quickly see that the most common form of collection is via a transponder that is attached to the vehicle. There is no stopping necessary, and in some locations, there isn’t even a need to slow down.
The newest system is “pay-by-plate,” where a bill is sent to the address that is registered with the vehicle after you have used a tollway. The cost of Pay-By-Plate is higher than the debited/transponder fee to encourage the purchase and funding of the account.
And while some states have their own systems, E-ZPass electronic toll collection systems are 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.