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Natick Plaza Demolished

Natick Plaza Demolished

MassDOT has announced that toll plaza demolition is proceeding on schedule since the launch of open road tolling on Friday evening, October 28.

Work continues 24/7 in 23 work zones along I-90 (the Massachusetts Turnpike) with activities including the demolition of canopies, toll booths, concrete slabs of toll plazas, and the removal of utilities in underground tunnels. While demolition work began simultaneously following logistical setups over the weekend, each plaza has its own specific management design and construction schedule.

“We appreciate the patience and cooperation of drivers as we continue work in the 23 active construction zones along I-90,” said Transportation Secretary and CEO Stephanie Pollack. “Drivers should remain aware of the fluid traffic conditions, give themselves extra time to reach their destinations, and ensure they are making the appropriate decision regarding their route and method of travel.”

“We have had no major issues with toll demolition activities so far,” said Highway Administrator Thomas J. Tinlin. “Credit goes to drivers who have heeded advice to travel at off-peak times, take transit, or not go into the office today. Credit also goes to MassDOT employees and contractors who have deployed equipment and personnel according to plans and who have executed this plan according to schedule. We appreciate the public continuing to drive slow in our 23 work zones, obey directional signs, and proceed without stopping.”

Drivers are reminded that the posted speed limit is 15 mph through each of these construction zones, even when there is no visible construction activity. This speed limit will remain in place until November 22, as crews are involved in the process of demolishing the center areas of existing toll plazas and reconstructing the roadways in those center areas.

Drivers are also strongly discouraged from stopping at the existing toll booths and attempting to manually pay the toll fare. The new All Electronic Tolling system ensures that drivers without an active transponder are able to pay the toll by automatically taking a picture of their license plate and sending them a “Pay By Plate” invoice in the mail. Stopping at the existing toll plazas is an unnecessary hazard that jeopardizes the safety of construction crews, law enforcement personnel, and other travelers.

MassDOT also advises drivers that they may experience slow-downs near toll plaza as equipment is mobilized and follow the directions of law enforcement officers and the instructions posted on signs. Travelers should allow extra time to reach destinations, consider traveling by mass transit if possible, and obey directions on posted signs and by law enforcement officers who will be present.

Yesterday, MassDOT crews and contractors continued to demolish the toll plaza structures and reconstruct the roadways for normal highway usage. At several existing toll plazas, including those located in West Stockbridge, Lee, and Chicopee, contractors began removing the overhead canopies and toll booths. At toll plazas located in Sturbridge, Millbury/Worcester, Framingham, and Natick, substantial demolition took place as contractors removed the toll booths and overhead canopies in their entirety.

Other activities yesterday included removing utilities and equipment from the underground tunnels that run beneath the toll plazas, breaking up the concrete slabs beneath the toll plazas, and clearing away debris and other materials from the toll plaza areas.

Today, MassDOT contractors and crews will continue the toll demolition process at various locations along I-90. Crews will continue removing the overhead canopies at toll plazas in Westfield, West Springfield, Chicopee, and Ludlow. At the two toll plazas in Weston, contractors will be repaving the center areas of the toll plazas and preparing this location for the second phase of the demolition and reconstruction process.

There will also be a full closure of the Ted Williams Tunnel on Monday night, into Tuesday morning, to allow construction crews to safely remove the overhead canopies at this toll plaza. Appropriate signage and notifications will be in place and drivers will detour through the Sumner Tunnel.

The following statistics reflect activity on Sunday, October 30:

  • Approximately 2,796,234 transactions were processed by the All Electronic Tolling gantries between 10:06 p.m., on Friday, and 8:00 a.m., on Monday.
  • This includes 1,348,740 transactions processed between Saturday at 8 a.m., and Sunday at 8 a.m.
  • Approximately 77.7% of Sunday’s transactions were automatically registered as valid E-ZPass transactions.
  • 439 personnel were utilized for the work on toll plaza demolition and road reconstruction on Sunday. This number includes 102 public safety and law enforcement personnel and includes 337 MassDOT and contractor personnel.
  • 108 dump trucks, excavators and other construction vehicles were utilized.
  • E-ZPass customer service centers statewide processed approximately 768 customers who received E-ZPass transponders on Sunday.
  • The new All Electronic Tolling website, (EZDriveMA.com), was activated Friday at 10 p.m., to provide information on gantry rates, the hours and locations of Customer Service Centers, and the process for receiving a free transponder.  This website functionality for transponder applications and customer account access will be activated on Tuesday, November 1, at 7 a.m. The migration of 1.7 million customer accounts and other data from the former ezpassma.com website to the new website is taking several days.

For traffic and road conditions, drivers may use the following options to make decisions:

  • Travelers, before getting on the highway, may utilize the MassDOT Real-Time Traffic (“Go-Time”) informational displays which are set up along I-90 for east and westbound travel between Sturbridge and Boston by visiting the online Traffic Information Map.
  • The public may dial 511 and select a route to hear real-time conditions on I-90 and other roads.
  • Visit mass511.com, a website which provides real-time traffic and incident advisory information, and allows users to subscribe to text and email alerts for traffic conditions.
  • Access MassDOT live traffic cameras online, including 10 new cameras on I-90 added this week.
  • Download Waze, the real-time traffic navigation app that provides motorists with real-time traffic conditions across Massachusetts.
  • Download the Ridewise app. Customers may use Ridewise to obtain travel times for various routes including portions of I-90.   The app is available on Android and iPhone. Drivers are advised not to use the app if they are operating a motor vehicle.

MassDOT suggests drivers may find these websites helpful:

Travelers should also visit the following websites of Regional Transit Authorities for information on public transportation in communities that are located near I-90:

 

Several days ago, MassDOT announced a “grace period” for drivers without transponders who then sign up for an E-Z PassMA account as the Commonwealth continues the transition to electronic tolling.  For information, please visit: www.ezdrivema.com.

All Electronic Tolling works by collecting information on vehicles that pass beneath the overhead tolling gantries. Vehicles with an active transponder have the toll rate automatically deducted from their E-ZPass account. Vehicles without a transponder have a picture taken of their license plate, and receive a “Pay By Plate” invoice in the mail. Drivers are advised that the Pay By Plate toll rate is slightly higher than the transponder rate.

The grace period will allow Pay By Plate customers who obtain an E-ZPass transponder to receive credit for the difference in the Pay By Plate and E-ZPass MA gantry rate on any invoices they’ve paid since October 28. For the first six months, this option is available on any Pay By Plate bill, and after that, on the first bill that a Pay By Plate customer receives.

MassDOT appreciates the patience of the public during the transition from manual toll collection and believes community members will soon see the benefits of electronic tolls, including, an increase in safety, a lessening of traffic congestion, and a reduction of greenhouse gases.

MassDOT will continue to have a robust public outreach process to inform about the progress of toll plaza demolition, new lanes of traffic patterns on I-90, and other AET developments with the use of real-time signboards along roads, via its Twitter feed, (@MassDOT), and through other communication tools.

Drivers are encouraged to plan ahead and allow extra time for travel.  Members of the public with concerns or questions can email Aetinfo@dot.state.ma.us.  For more information about gantry rates and for other details about the implementation of the EZDriveMA program, please visit: www.massdot.state.ma.us/allelectronictolling

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