Cashless tolling coming to Baltimore’s Key Bridge, Hatem Memorial Bridge in Northeast MD

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The Francis Scott Key Bridge. Photo by Patorjk, via Wikimedia Commons.

Come this fall, there will be no more stopping on the Francis Scott Key and Hatem Memorial toll bridges in Maryland.

The Maryland Transportation Authority announced this morning that both bridges are going cashless, with tolls to be collected by E-Z Pass or video tolling overhead.

Eighty percent of drivers traversing the Key Bridge on I-695 in the city already use E-Z Pass anyway, as do 93 percent of those who travel the Hatem Memorial Bridge connecting Harford and Cecil counties on Route 40, MDTA said. The planned changes could save drivers $1 million in fuel annually and a combined 44,000 hours in stoppage time at the toll booths, in addition to reducing crashes.

Maryland is among 17 states with the debit-based E-Z Pass system allowing drivers to pass through tolls without stopping, and employs video tolling for those without transponders. (The practical benefit is the same, but those who aren’t pass holders are charged 1.5 times the base toll rate, with a minimum $1 surcharge, and will receive a bill in the mail.)

The state’s Board of Public Works in 2018 awarded a nearly $89 million contract to McLean, Virginia-based KapschTrafficCom for the tolling operations, and a $273 million contract for Transcore LP to handle the customer service end of things. Both contracts run for 13 years, and all of the money used to fund them comes from toll revenues, the state said.

The new tolling infrastructure will be installed at both bridges by September, and all tolls will be collected electronically by late October. Further out, the state said the existing toll plazas, including their manned booths, will be demolished by spring of 2021.

MDTA plans to install other cashless tolling infrastructure across the state in the future, though a schedule hasn’t been finalized.

Ethan McLeod
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