PLYMOUTH MEETING, Pa. (WTXF) - You may have noticed a change if you use E-ZPass to pay your toll at the Pennsylvania Turnpike’s largest interchange. That’s the Mid-County near Plymouth Meeting where the mainline turnpike (I-276), meets up with the Northeast Extension heading north and the Blue Route heading south. (Both are I-476.)
Starting Sunday, the E-ZPass Only express lanes approaching the Mid-County on I-476 (Northeast Extension southbound and Blue Route northbound) were closed and they won’t re-open for three more weeks, until April 10.
The PA Turnpike Commission says the round-the-clock closure is necessary for crews to safely upgrade the overhead electronic tolling equipment for open road tolling.
That means drivers with E-ZPass transponders won’t be able to drive right by the toll booths. Instead, they’ll have to slow down and drive through the old traditional toll booths marked for E-ZPass at 5mph. Those booths are to the right of the express lanes.
FOX 29’s Bob Kelly warns that’s going to cause a JAMMO at rush hours.
Later phases of the Mid-County Interchange repair project will include repairs to the concrete pavement on I-476 and the ramps leading to I-276 eastbound and westbound. The project is scheduled to be completed in September 2018.
Separately, the PA Turnpike Commission is starting to remove those red, yellow and green traffic lights used as feedback signals, letting E-ZPass drivers know whether their transponders were read and toll paid properly.
It says federal guidelines no longer allow them and toll equipment in those lanes will be replaced with more modern hardware and software along the entire 550-mile turnpike system.
That project started last Friday at the Harrisburg West Interchange, will continue with several interchanges each month, and happen at “E-ZPass Only” interchanges north and east of Philadelphia by the end of the year.
During that change, drivers may see the lights no longer working, wrapped in yellow plastic. At the end, the commission says the signs should be simpler.