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CHP urges drivers watch speed at revamped Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza

Drivers at the all-electronic Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza on Wednesday, March 27, 2013.

CONNER JAY/ PD
Published: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 8:14 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 at 8:14 a.m.

The CHP urged motorists headed for the Golden Gate Bridge Wednesday to slow down as they approached the toll plaza, which for the first time in 75 years was absent any humans collecting tolls.

The speed limit through the toll plaza with the new automated system is 25 mph. But the CHP recorded some motorists traveling above 60 mph, Officer Andrew Barclay said.

He said the CHP was directing more personnel to the bridge Wednesday morning to enforce the speed limit.

"Definitely more presence. Enforcement as necessary," he said at the bridge.

Bridge officials threw the switch on the new automated system at about midnight. Another issue was motorists stopping at the toll plaza in apparent confusion that the rules have changed.

However, no major problems, such as crashes, were reported.

"It's going really, really well," said Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Bridge Highway and Transportation District.

Signs along Highway 101 informed motorists of the change.

Peak rush hour started at about 7 a.m. About 86 percent of morning commuters already use FasTrak and are already accustomed to not having to stop at the toll plaza.

The real test of the new system was anticipated later in the day when more people who normally would pay with cash were expected to use the span.

Bridge officials say electronic tolling, which has been planned for two years, is necessary to reduce costs.

The new system is costing $3.4 million to implement, including $520,000 to publicize the changes. It is projected to save the district $16.8 million over an eight-year period.

Officials also tout the conversion as a convenience for motorists who no longer will have to stop to pay their bridge fares. Such payments will be made using FasTrak, license-plate accounts, direct billing or through kiosks and cashiers at locations along thoroughfares leading to the bridge.

The new system resulted in the elimination of 28 full-time toll collector jobs.

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