Topeka — Travelers on the Kansas Turnpike tonight will witness progress in action, with the installation of a new computer system at toll booths.
The $3.8 million project will install an IBM PS-2 system, including 95 computers, in 19 toll plazas and 76 lanes of toll booths, said Marty Wiltse, director of auditing and information systems for the Kansas Turnpike Authority. The work will get under way at 7 p.m. and should be completed by 8 a.m. Friday.
"The equipment that we currently have was put in in 1976," Wiltse said. "It's difficult to obtain parts for the system and the company that produced our toll plazas is no longer in business."
The new computers will provide a number of services for turnpike motorists, as well as simplifying the job of the toll collectors.
For example, 30 points of interest near the turnpike have been programmed into the computer, so booth workers can provide a print-out of directions.
"When you pull up to an exit line and you want to know how to get to KU, for example, the collector will call up KU on a menu and print out directions," Wiltse said.
Other changes will include:
A faster method for reading the magnetic strip on the ticket.
A modularized system that prevents a total shutdown when one piece of machinery fails.
Magnetic strip KTA credit cards that replaces the old key punch cards.
Capability of the KTA dispatcher in Wichita to send messages to specific toll plazas.
Electronic mail services for supervisors.
Future capability to accept major credit cards.