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#1
Old 06-12-2012, 10:35 AM
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PA Turnpike, Missed Toll

A few weeks ago I was driving out to Wildwood, NJ for the Beach Jam (a Boy Scout weekend) at Moreyís Piers. I was driving alone with my GPS navigating, I had work so I had to drive down after everyone else.

I think this was the first time I ever actually uses the Turnpike. When I was a kid, we would take the Turnpike to go on family vacations, but I canít recall ever driving it myself.

So I got on the Turnpike at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area of PA and got my ticket. My GPS was guiding me so I have no idea how long I was on the Turnpike for (the letter said it was Toll Plaza Mid-County-20), but I never went through a toll booth. I know there are normal lanes where you stop, hand them your ticket and pay the toll, and E-ZPass lanes where you just pass through if your car has the device. But I never went through a toll booth on the way down.

On the way back I had no trouble. I had to pay a toll for some bridge near Philly, and I got on the Turnpike and paid that toll with no problem.

Then yesterday I got a letter saying I have a $52.40 bill for running the toll booth, and a picture of my license plate. I am trying to understand how I missed it. I know I didnít go through a toll booth. I think I passed a few that were on exits I didnít take, but I didnít actually go through any on the way down.

If anyone has any idea what the Hell I did, that would be kool.
#2
Old 06-12-2012, 10:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
A few weeks ago I was driving out to Wildwood, NJ for the Beach Jam (a Boy Scout weekend) at Morey’s Piers. I was driving alone with my GPS navigating, I had work so I had to drive down after everyone else.

I think this was the first time I ever actually uses the Turnpike. When I was a kid, we would take the Turnpike to go on family vacations, but I can’t recall ever driving it myself.

So I got on the Turnpike at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton area of PA and got my ticket. My GPS was guiding me so I have no idea how long I was on the Turnpike for (the letter said it was Toll Plaza Mid-County-20), but I never went through a toll booth. I know there are normal lanes where you stop, hand them your ticket and pay the toll, and E-ZPass lanes where you just pass through if your car has the device. But I never went through a toll booth on the way down.

On the way back I had no trouble. I had to pay a toll for some bridge near Philly, and I got on the Turnpike and paid that toll with no problem.

Then yesterday I got a letter saying I have a $52.40 bill for running the toll booth, and a picture of my license plate. I am trying to understand how I missed it. I know I didn’t go through a toll booth. I think I passed a few that were on exits I didn’t take, but I didn’t actually go through any on the way down.

If anyone has any idea what the Hell I did, that would be kool.
Exactly which exits did you get on and off? AFAIK, there is a tollbooth at every single exit off the turnpike. If you miss the exit tollbooth, they charge you the max (i.e. as if you drove to Ohio)

Last edited by furt; 06-12-2012 at 10:43 AM.
#3
Old 06-12-2012, 10:43 AM
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My best guess is you "zoned out" and never noticed going through the toll booth.

Be thankful all you have to pay for losing concentration on the road is a (not very hefty) fine, and not your health or your life!
#4
Old 06-12-2012, 10:45 AM
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The PA turnpike is limited access and has tollbooths at all exits. It's not pay as you go - it's pay when you exit. Like it or not, you blew through a tollbooth.

Did you cross the Delaware River Turnpike bridge, that connects the PA & NJ turnpikes? There's a toll plaza right before the bridge, as seen here.
#5
Old 06-12-2012, 10:48 AM
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I'm not as familiar with that side of the state, but if you're heading out of PA westbound you could zone out and go through the EZ-pass express lane. Basically, being in the right lane takes you to the booths while staying straight in the left lane is the express. There is no toll booth and traffic does not slow down. If you have no transponder they do what you describe:your plate is photographed and you get a ticket in the mail. I'm not sure but I'd guess there's something similar out there.

The turnpike website confirms that there is an express lane at the exit you were ticketed at: http://paturnpike.com/ezpass/per...aq.htm#express

Last edited by Mithras; 06-12-2012 at 10:53 AM. Reason: added turnpike link
#6
Old 06-12-2012, 10:58 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muldoonthief View Post
Like it or not, you blew through a tollbooth.
The only way to leave the PA Turnpike without going through a tollbooth would be difficult and illegal. There are a few access areas where technically you might be able to exit onto a road, but you would have to go from the berm, over a hillside, etc.
#7
Old 06-12-2012, 11:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by muldoonthief View Post
The PA turnpike is limited access and has tollbooths at all exits. It's not pay as you go - it's pay when you exit. Like it or not, you blew through a tollbooth.

Did you cross the Delaware River Turnpike bridge, that connects the PA & NJ turnpikes? There's a toll plaza right before the bridge, as seen here.
I didn't go on that bridge. I didn't use the NJ Turnpike.

But on a side note, as I was driving down the Turnpike, I know I saw what seemed to be side roads connecting the Turnpike to country roads with houses on them, with no toll booths.
#8
Old 06-12-2012, 11:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithras View Post
I'm not as familiar with that side of the state, but if you're heading out of PA westbound you could zone out and go through the EZ-pass express lane. Basically, being in the right lane takes you to the booths while staying straight in the left lane is the express. There is no toll booth and traffic does not slow down. If you have no transponder they do what you describe:your plate is photographed and you get a ticket in the mail. I'm not sure but I'd guess there's something similar out there.

The turnpike website confirms that there is an express lane at the exit you were ticketed at: http://paturnpike.com/ezpass/per...aq.htm#express

If the EZ-pass lane is completely separate from the toll booth, I may have stayed straight and missed it then. I was under the impression that even if you have EZ-pass, you sill pass through a booth of some sort, at which point I would know I was at a toll booth. But If I saw the highway going straight and a booth off to the side, I probably stayed on the highway thinking the booths were an exit I wasn't going on.
#9
Old 06-12-2012, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
If the EZ-pass lane is completely separate from the toll booth, I may have stayed straight and missed it then. I was under the impression that even if you have EZ-pass, you sill pass through a booth of some sort, at which point I would know I was at a toll booth. But If I saw the highway going straight and a booth off to the side, I probably stayed on the highway thinking the booths were an exit I wasn't going on.
That's exactly what it looks like. The highway splits and if you weren't paying attention to the signs leading up to it, it might look like an exit on the right. Traffic doesn't slow down, you don't go through a toll booth, and you think the lane coming back on your right is another highway meeting up with you.
#10
Old 06-12-2012, 11:28 AM
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Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
I didn't go on that bridge. I didn't use the NJ Turnpike...

But on a side note, as I was driving down the Turnpike...
Oh, a wiseguy eh? Nyuck nyuck nycuk...


The EZ Pass express lanes are the greatest thing since EZ Pass. Fantastic. They are built over the entire width of a road so there is no slowing down, no toll booth, no lights to watch for, nothing. You just keep driving as you were without any toll-clogging at all.
#11
Old 06-12-2012, 11:34 AM
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Having a bit of similar experience on Virginia toll roads; after I once blew through the toll "pay" booth and my ez-Pass did not go green I called them and explained and they were able to connect my license plate with the missed toll and simply charged me the $1.50.

So if it helps... you might want to give them a call and possibly they can then verify the exit you zoned through and charge you the amount you owe, instead of the $54.20. Good luck.
#12
Old 06-12-2012, 11:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
If the EZ-pass lane is completely separate from the toll booth, I may have stayed straight and missed it then. I was under the impression that even if you have EZ-pass, you sill pass through a booth of some sort, at which point I would know I was at a toll booth. But If I saw the highway going straight and a booth off to the side, I probably stayed on the highway thinking the booths were an exit I wasn't going on.
OK, so it looks like you stayed on 476 when it changes from the PA turnpike NE extension to the Blue route. So yeah, you missed the signs that you should have paid a toll and went through the high speed EZ-pass instead - you can make out the square arches and the tollbooths to the sides here.

That's all new since the last time I drove that path (which was at least a decade ago) - used to be just tollbooths even if you had an EZ-pass. Looks like they just added a few high speed lanes between the booth plazas.

Last edited by muldoonthief; 06-12-2012 at 11:40 AM.
#13
Old 06-12-2012, 12:09 PM
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Some of the PA Turnpike exits have ramps that are EZPASS only. In other words the EZPASS infrastructure is built above the road and you do not go through a toll booth at all. Prior to this ramp there is a fork, one for toll booths and one for EZPASS. If you take the wrong one you would go on a regular looking road, but will have gone through the EZPASS toll.
#14
Old 06-12-2012, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
But on a side note, as I was driving down the Turnpike, I know I saw what seemed to be side roads connecting the Turnpike to country roads with houses on them, with no toll booths.
Most of those are access roads for maintenance and construction and such. There's usually a gate across the road at some point so people can't sneak off the turnpike without paying.
#15
Old 06-12-2012, 12:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl View Post
The EZ Pass express lanes are the greatest thing since EZ Pass. Fantastic. They are built over the entire width of a road so there is no slowing down, no toll booth, no lights to watch for, nothing. You just keep driving as you were without any toll-clogging at all.
Go West, young man
#16
Old 06-12-2012, 12:43 PM
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Originally Posted by Noone Special View Post
My best guess is you "zoned out" and never noticed going through the toll booth.

Be thankful all you have to pay for losing concentration on the road is a (not very hefty) fine, and not your health or your life!
You don't happen to be the Secretary of Commerce, do you?
#17
Old 06-12-2012, 01:24 PM
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Did you notice the rumble strips that you drove over before going through the express lanes? Kind of hard not to. They are there to minimize zoning out. But, if you never heard them before or had no idea wtf was going on you'd probably just shrug and keep on going.
#18
Old 06-12-2012, 03:29 PM
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So the photo from the tollbooth was when you were going onto the highway, getting your ticket? Or a photo from the exit lane?

Wow, they match the issued tickets to the exits to find the mising ones?

(I'm imagining some family returning from a funeral for a dear departed crushed by a semi, to find a bill for $52 from the turnpike authority.)
#19
Old 06-12-2012, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
So the photo from the tollbooth was when you were going onto the highway, getting your ticket? Or a photo from the exit lane?

Wow, they match the issued tickets to the exits to find the mising ones?

(I'm imagining some family returning from a funeral for a dear departed crushed by a semi, to find a bill for $52 from the turnpike authority.)
I believe the $52 is the toll for the ENTIRE turnpike between the exit you got off on and the state line in the direction you were driving from (so if you were heading to NJ, they calculate from the exit you got off on and the Ohio/WV border), since they really don't have any way of knowing where you got on.
#20
Old 06-12-2012, 03:47 PM
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
So the photo from the tollbooth was when you were going onto the highway, getting your ticket? Or a photo from the exit lane?

Wow, they match the issued tickets to the exits to find the mising ones?

(I'm imagining some family returning from a funeral for a dear departed crushed by a semi, to find a bill for $52 from the turnpike authority.)
They don't track the tickets handed out (you could get on the turnpike, spend a week at a rest stop, and then continue on your way with no ill effect). Doing so would be a major headache and isn't needed anyhow. They simply detect your car going through the EZ Pass exit lane without a transponder. It's there that they photograph your license plate. They do not make any effort to figure out where you came on the turnpike. Instead, you are charged the highest possible fare for that exit plus whatever fees they've decided to tack on.
#21
Old 06-12-2012, 04:44 PM
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Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
The only way to leave the PA Turnpike without going through a tollbooth would be difficult and illegal. There are a few access areas where technically you might be able to exit onto a road, but you would have to go from the berm, over a hillside, etc.
This is not true. Going to visit a friend in New Brighton recently, we got on the turnpike in Harmarville. At some point (Clairton? Clairion?), we hit a tollbooth, paid, and continued on the turnpike past another exit or two. We got off our exit and somehow made a wrong turn and got back on the turnpike going in the other direction. Got off at the next exit, turned around and re-entered the turnpike without having to get another ticket, and got off without having to pay another toll.
I don't remember specifically what exits we got on/off
So, there either isn't a tollbooth on every exit or we somehow got onto another road that had "PA Turnpike" signs all over it but was in fact a completely different road.
#22
Old 06-12-2012, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Mithras View Post
They don't track the tickets handed out (you could get on the turnpike, spend a week at a rest stop, and then continue on your way with no ill effect). Doing so would be a major headache and isn't needed anyhow. They simply detect your car going through the EZ Pass exit lane without a transponder. It's there that they photograph your license plate. They do not make any effort to figure out where you came on the turnpike. Instead, you are charged the highest possible fare for that exit plus whatever fees they've decided to tack on.
So the OP's photo should show exactly how he managed to get off the pike without a booth. Most places I've seen, usually NYC tunnels etc., the EZpass is a converted tollbooth lane so you do go through beside a booth; it's just not manned. (Hence the OP's confusion?)

You're saying they have built some exits now where EZpass is just a lane around the toll plaza? Hmmm, good to know.

One time driving from Cleveland (actually Sandusky) to Buffalo, I accidentally went into an EZpass lane; there was nobody at the tollbooth. The guy in the next booth told me to go ahead and not worry about paying (a whole $1 or so) instead of backing out in the middle of traffic. (Damn Canadian drivers!) I never saw any bill or whatever for that, not sure what happened.
#23
Old 06-12-2012, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
So the OP's photo should show exactly how he managed to get off the pike without a booth. Most places I've seen, usually NYC tunnels etc., the EZpass is a converted tollbooth lane so you do go through beside a booth; it's just not manned. (Hence the OP's confusion?)

You're saying they have built some exits now where EZpass is just a lane around the toll plaza? Hmmm, good to know.

The photo they sent me shows nothing but the back bumper of my truck and the tail gate.

And yes, I was under the impression that the EZpass lane was still covered and connected to the manned toll booths. But from this thread and talking to my sister I found that the one I went through and some others, the EZpass lane is the highway itself. You have to get off the highway to go to the manned toll booth.
#24
Old 06-12-2012, 06:46 PM
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Originally Posted by The Man In Black View Post
The photo they sent me shows nothing but the back bumper of my truck and the tail gate.

And yes, I was under the impression that the EZpass lane was still covered and connected to the manned toll booths. But from this thread and talking to my sister I found that the one I went through and some others, the EZpass lane is the highway itself. You have to get off the highway to go to the manned toll booth.

You will usually get these express EZ-Pass lanes where the toll is not associated with an actual exit and everyone on the highway at that point pays a toll- maybe before a bridge, before crossing a state or county line, or when there is a change in highway numbering or designation ( There's a point on the NYS Thruway where continuing on I-87 takes you off the Thruway and you pay the toll although you haven't left 87)
#25
Old 06-12-2012, 09:12 PM
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Originally Posted by doreen View Post
You will usually get these express EZ-Pass lanes where the toll is not associated with an actual exit and everyone on the highway at that point pays a toll- maybe before a bridge, before crossing a state or county line, or when there is a change in highway numbering or designation
Oh, is THAT what those are? Glad I read this thread. A friend and I were driving back to Virginia from NYC when we encountered what I'm almost sure was one of these in (I think) New Jersey ó there was an exit to a tollbooth, but it looked for all the world like there was nowhere to go after the booth except back onto the highway, and we couldn't figure out why on Earth anyone would want to pull off at such a thing. As we continued past it, we concluded that we must've missed an obscured turnoff. I'll have to keep an eye out for these in the future.

Never did get a ticket, though.
#26
Old 06-12-2012, 10:49 PM
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http://images.quickblogcast.com/7274...yTollPlaza.jpg

Here's an example of a Sunpass toll plaza in FL. If you have a Sunpass you just go straight, without slowing down, without stopping at a toll booth. If you need to pay cash you go to the right and stop at a toll booth then return to the main highway.
#27
Old 06-13-2012, 01:43 AM
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I drove the PA turnpike a few months ago. I had never before driven anywhere in the northeast, and had never driven on a toll road at all.

The signs indicating where the EZ-Pass lanes were, where the regular toll lanes were, where the exits were, etc were so goddamned bleeding obvious that anyone who could not see and clearly understand the signs has no business behind the wheel.

Last edited by Klostertal; 06-13-2012 at 01:44 AM.
#28
Old 06-13-2012, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Apocalypso View Post
This is not true. Going to visit a friend in New Brighton recently, we got on the turnpike in Harmarville. At some point (Clairton? Clairion?), we hit a tollbooth, paid, and continued on the turnpike past another exit or two. We got off our exit and somehow made a wrong turn and got back on the turnpike going in the other direction. Got off at the next exit, turned around and re-entered the turnpike without having to get another ticket, and got off without having to pay another toll.
I don't remember specifically what exits we got on/off
So, there either isn't a tollbooth on every exit or we somehow got onto another road that had "PA Turnpike" signs all over it but was in fact a completely different road.
Sounds like you only thought you were on the turnpike after you paid your toll. There aren't any tollbooths on the turnpike where you would pay and not exit anywhere around Harmarville.
#29