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Turnpike toll plazas will be automated

Project engineer Rex Fleming describes his view of an aerial photo that looks east along the Kansas Turnpike at a new interchange being built at Leavenworth County Road 1, the road that crosses the turnpike using a new bridge about eight miles east of Lawrence.

September 24, 2008

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$16.7M interchange project taking shape

A new Kansas Turnpike interchange is taking shape in Leavenworth County. Enlarge video

Crews continue work on new interchange

Motorists seeking a route to the Turnpike will have another option once the interchange at the intersection at Leavenworth County Road 1 is completed. Enlarge video

The new turnpike interchange at Leavenworth County Road 1 won't just be the first new exit on the toll highway since the Lecompton interchange opened a dozen years ago.

It also will be the first to operate without anyone around.

The new interchange - to be exit 212 - will have four toll plazas, each managed solely by machines.

Entry ramps will have the familiar equipment that spits out tickets to drivers getting on the turnpike, and each of the two exit ramps will have the usual K-TAG lane to handle customers who pay their bills monthly.

New with the Leavenworth interchange, set to open by the end of 2009: two Automatic Toll Payment Machines, or ATPMs, on each exit ramp.

The ATPMs will instruct drivers, by video, to insert their turnpike tickets, then inform customers how much money they owe. Payments then can be made using bills, coins or credit cards. Anyone with questions will be able to connect to a real-life turnpike employee at another location, accessible through video and audio.

Drivers wanting a receipt can have one printed out, before a gate rises to allow for entry onto County Road 1.

The system is designed to pay off within a couple of years through reduced personnel costs, said Alan Bakaitis, the turnpike's toll operations director. In all, about 10 turnpike plazas will be equipped with such machines, mostly to be used in times of low traffic usage, typically during early-morning hours.

Among the plazas slated to get automated machines: Both exit ramps at the Lecompton interchange, and the new toll plaza planned for the East Lawrence Interchange.

The turnpike does not anticipate laying off any of its 200 toll collectors, Bakaitis said.

The plan is to rely on normal retirements and other attrition to reduce the collector staff to about 180 in the coming years.

Comments

imagold 5 years, 6 months ago

Ahhh, the computerized age. I don't think the inventor did us any favors.

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Berserk 5 years, 6 months ago

Layoffs aren't nessecary, they can pull a Wal-Mart and move them all down to 10 hours a week untill they quit or cannot afford to work anymore.

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MyName 5 years, 6 months ago

ZOMG! Da Machines! Dey Tuk R Jarbs!

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showinquarters 5 years, 6 months ago

Traffic trends have shown that quite a few people will be using the new on and off ramps. I know that this new entrance onto and off of I-70 will cut my drive time down by almost 20 minutes a day! They say that they have had success with the automated systems in other places so why wouldn't it work here? You will have a few slow people, but they are the same slow people at the normal toll booths too. If you have a real problem with being behind a slow payer, get KTAG and you will have your own lane.

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ksyellowrocker 5 years, 6 months ago

Who is really going to actually get off at this exit, anyway?

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Raider 5 years, 6 months ago

OK, this is a disaster waiting to happen. Can you imagine the delays involved with this? Dolly Driver will take forever to figure out the new-fangled machines, and cause a huge backup getting off of the turnpike. Thank goodness for KTag lanes. :-)

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blue73harley 5 years, 6 months ago

"Anyone with questions will be able to connect to a real-life turnpike employee at another location, accessible through video and audio."It is only a matter of time until this real-life person will be at a call center in India.

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sandysslick 5 years, 6 months ago

We have such important problems here in Kansas !

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admireed 5 years, 6 months ago

KTAG users do get a toll break now

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DonQuipunch 5 years, 6 months ago

K-tag users do get a price break. If you pre-pay, you get 10% off.

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LA_Ex 5 years, 6 months ago

Wouldn't it be nice if they did like other cities and made the K-Tag lanes on the left side of the highway and capable if reading the tag at 70mph? Keeping traffic moving instead of slowing everybody down. The technology is out there and it can't cost that much more to use it. It would also be nice it K-Tag users got a break on the price of the tolls.

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DonQuipunch 5 years, 6 months ago

Well, in Houston, they don't have a gate in the automated lanes and if you run a booth, you get a ticket mailed to you. So defective K-Tags or running the booth wouldn't be an issue.I'm imagining that's what's going to happen here.

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The_Original_Bob 5 years, 6 months ago

Verity =That's what I was thinking. This idea seems about 20 years past due.

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Kat Christian 5 years, 6 months ago

If it isn't new technology taking jobs, its sending jobs to foreign countries to our terrible economy. They wonder what the unemployment rate is on the rise. DUH!!

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verity 5 years, 6 months ago

It works in other places, has for decades.

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Eric Neuteboom 5 years, 6 months ago

Exactly, cheese and johnks. Even if only during peak hours.I remember a "friend of a friend" story from my college days, where the guy came down to visit from the Dakotas. He'd never seen a toll booth before, and was quite surprised. He took his ticket, but when he got to his exit, was quite surprised that he had to pay. His exact quote when asked for his toll was, I believe, "*&!% you, I pay my taxes!"

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cheeseburger 5 years, 6 months ago

jamnjohnks - My thoughts exactly! I cannot see how those problems will be dealt with if a KTA employee is not present.

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Reality_Check 5 years, 6 months ago

Oooo, how 20th Century! Every time I see those over-paid ticket takers, I think, "Why are you still here?"

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jamnjohnks 5 years, 6 months ago

What's going to happen when, for example, someone has a defective K-Tag. Many times I have seen where an actual live person has to release the gate. The machine going to do that? What happens when someone is an idiot and tries to go through the K-Tag lane without a K-tag? Right now, a human being walks over and collects the toll. It happens frequently. I see a big traffic snarl because someone can't get through the K-tag lane. I think this is a bad idea. There should be at least one human around.

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average 5 years, 6 months ago

domino - In the particular instance of Exit 212, this is a new interchange. So, the cost comparison would be between installing the new tech or adding new staff for the new booths.

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domino 5 years, 6 months ago

OK - I'm a little confused - the system is designed to pay off within a couple years thru reduced personnel costs but the turnpike does not anticipate layinf off any of its 200 toll collectors? Something doesn't quite add up there!

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