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Are cash tolls a thing of the past?

Tuesday - 10/25/2011, 4:42am  ET

Hank Silverberg,

WASHINGTON -- We may be headed for cashless tolls where dumping quarters into a basket is no longer an option.

You can't use cash on Maryland's newly opened InterCounty Connector and now Virginia is moving ahead with similar electronic tolls only, the E-ZPass, on several tunnels and bridges in the Hampton Road area by late next year.

Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Lauren Hansen says all new toll roads in the state will use E-ZPass. But whether it will be E-ZPass Only or will include a cash toll will be decided by location and clientele.

"Depending on the type of motorists that use that corridor, local or out of state, and that sort of analysis will then determine what kind of tolling is needed," she says.

That includes tolls proposed for the Interstate 95 corridor south of Fredericksburg, which are now being studied.

The High Occupancy Toll Lanes, under construction in Northern Virginia on interstates 95, 395 and 495 will have all electronic tolling. Because of that, VDOT is going to increase the number of places you can buy the E-ZPass transponders.

The same transponders are used by most states along the East Coast making for a smooth transition on interstate highways.

Not every toll road in Virginia, though, is controlled by VDOT. The Dulles Toll Road is run by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, where cash will remain an option, a spokeswoman says.

The Dulles Greenway is a private highway that also includes a cash option, but only at certain times of the day.

Virginia plans to implement the E-ZPass only system in Norfolk and Portsmouth as new construction projects begin there late next year. That will be the first time the state has used pass-only tolls.

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