Thruway does away with people and cash

Pictured are Christa MacDonald and Richard Lindmark, the last toll collectors to work at Exit B-2 East Chatham where the Taconic State Parkway ends and meets the Thruway. Photo contributed

EAST CHATHAM—Gone are the days of scrambling for loose change between the car seats and the nanosecond of human contact while handing it over at a Thruway toll booth.

After 66 years, the Thruway has gone cashless.

At 1 a.m. Saturday, November 14, the New York State Thruway successfully converted to an entirely cashless tolling system.

“This is a historic moment for transportation in New York State, according to a press release from Thruway Authority Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll.

In Columbia County that meant Christa MacDonald and Richard Lindmark, both of East Chatham, the last toll collectors to work at Exit B-2 where the Taconic State Parkway ends and meets the Thruway, said goodbye to their small, glass-enclosed, rectangular offices after 8 and 3 1/2 years, respectively.

Both were part-time Thruway workers. Mr. Lindmark has already started a new job with increased hours at Chatham Hardware where his son is part owner.

According to Executive Director Driscoll, motorists will now drive under American-made steel gantries with state-of-the-art sensors and cameras that read E-ZPass tags and capture license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop to pay the toll.

In the coming months, drivers will continue to travel through existing toll lanes at reduced speeds without stopping until the toll booths are removed and road reconfigurations are complete. Drivers are strongly urged to slow down and use caution around the toll plazas during this time, as it will be an active construction zone. In 2021, after all of the toll plazas are removed, drivers will have a completely unobstructed ride on the 570-mile system.

Mr. Driscoll thanked “all toll collectors, both past and present, who have served as the backbone of the Thruway Authority since the first tolls were collected in 1954. Their hard work and dedication serving customers has made the Thruway what it is today.”

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