Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced cashless tolling will go live at the Grand Island Toll Barriers on March 29, weather dependent. As of the morning commute on Friday, March 30, the Grand Island toll plazas, which are located near Niagara Falls, will no longer accept cash payment. With the conversion to open road, cashless tolling, drivers will no longer have to stop and wait to pay a toll, which is projected to save drivers approximately 200 minutes per year on their commutes.
“Open road, cashless tolling exemplifies New York’s commitment to a transportation system for a 21st-century economy,” Gov. Cuomo said. “By transitioning the Grand Island barriers to cashless tolling we will be saving time and easing congestion, allowing drivers to get where they need to go quicker and more efficiently.”
“Like so many fellow Western New Yorkers, I’ve experienced the frustration of waiting endlessly at tolls, especially during summer months heading to Niagara Falls or Artpark over the Grand Island Bridge,” said Lieutenant Governor Hochul. “Finally, those days are over. No longer will harried parents be late for after work soccer games, and truckers won’t lose valuable time sitting in traffic. Cashless tolling will improve traffic flow allowing motorists to get to their destinations easier and quicker without having to stop to pay a toll. Less idling will also help to reduce pollution for a cleaner and greener environment.”
In August 2017, Governor Cuomo announced open road, cashless tolling would begin at the Grand Island Toll Barriers in March 2018. Since the announcement, crews have installed two overhead gantries on the Niagara Thruway (I-190), one northbound and one southbound, which drivers will pass under to pay their tolls. Work also included the installation of concrete slabs that serve as the driving surface at the cashless tolling locations, as well as two additional secure structures which house equipment to operate the state-of-the-art technology. Overnight testing of the system will take place ahead of the March 29 activation date.
With the implementation of open road tolling, state-of-the-art sensors and cameras will be suspended over the highway on structures called “gantries” that read E-ZPass tags and take license plate images, so vehicles no longer have to stop to pay the toll. Vehicles with E-ZPass tags are automatically charged. Non-E-ZPass vehicles have their license plates recorded and a bill is mailed to the registered owner of each vehicle in approximately 30 days. Customers who pay using Tolls By Mail will pay the same toll rate as previously paid by cash customers, and E-ZPass customers with New York accounts will continue to get a five percent discount. The cash rate for the toll will remain $1.
Thruway Authority Acting Executive Director Matthew J. Driscoll said, “More than 20 million motorists who travel this vital connector each year will soon reap the benefits of cashless tolling which eases congestion, improves safety, and reduces air pollution. Cashless tolling will improve the travel experience for residents and tourists traveling to Buffalo, Niagara Falls, and beyond.”
The Grand Island Bridges connect Grand Island on the Niagara Thruway (I-190) between Niagara Falls and the Town of Tonawanda. It is a main thoroughfare for commuters and visitors between the City of Buffalo and Niagara Falls. In 2017, approximately 23.5 million vehicles traveled through the Grand Island Toll Barriers, which translates to nearly 65,000 vehicles per day. When cashless tolling goes live, Grand Island will become the New York State Thruway Authority’s second cashless tolling location. The first cashless tolling point was implemented on the Tappan Zee Bridge in 2016. Toll collectors currently employed at the two Grand Island toll plazas will be reassigned to other toll plazas in the region.
Once cashless tolling on Grand Island becomes operational, the Thruway Authority will begin removing the toll plazas at the North and South Grand Island Bridges in several phases which will result in altered traffic patterns. For a short period of time, drivers will continue to travel through toll plazas at reduced speeds without stopping until the booths are removed and the road reconfiguration is completed. Drivers are strongly urged to use caution around the toll plazas during this time as it will be an active construction zone. The posted speed limit when traveling through the toll plazas will be 20 MPH. The temporary traffic pattern for the North Grand Island Bridge can be found here. The temporary traffic pattern for the South Grand Island Bridge can be found here.
E-ZPass On-the-Go tags can be purchased at all cash lanes at the Grand Island Toll Plazas, 26 Thruway Service Areas system-wide, and nearly 800 locations across the state including select grocery and convenience stores, and government offices.