- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 26, 2003

RICHMOND — Virginia is joining the EZ Pass automated highway tolling system in wide use in nine East Coast states, allowing users of Virginia’s dominant Smart Tag system to breeze right through tollbooths all the way up to Maine.

The arrangement is a particularly convenient development for Northern Virginia drivers who have Smart Tag transponders in their cars but work in Maryland and have to negotiate that state’s EZ Pass toll lanes.

It also benefits out-of-state drivers whose EZ Pass tags will work in Virginia’s Smart Tag lanes by the time it goes into effect, probably by next fall, Gov. Mark Warner said yesterday in announcing the deal.

“We will be able to have now seamless travel from Virginia to Maine,” Mr. Warner said on WTOP Radio’s monthly “Ask the Governor” show.

“We’re going to be able to do it at a cost of about $3.5 [million] to $4.5 million,” Mr. Warner said. By becoming the 10th state in the EZ Pass consortium, the state’s cost will actually decrease because of the availability of bulk purchasing with the other states, he said.

Besides Maine and Maryland, other states now in the EZ Pass consortium include New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Delaware. Virginia Smart Tags will eventually work in all of those states.

About 230,000 Smart Tag accounts are active now in Virginia, said Barbara Reese of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT).

VDOT owns three toll roads: the Coleman Bridge carrying Route 17 over the York River, the Powhite Parkway Extension in Richmond and the Dulles Toll Road in Northern Virginia.

Other tollways in Virginia owned by local governments, private operators or multijurisdictional authorities include the Chesapeake Expressway, the Dulles Greenway, the Richmond Metropolitan Authority Expressway, and the newly opened Pocahontas Parkway in suburban Richmond.

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