Plan would eliminate toll booths at MTA crossings

- For commuters, every minute matters. Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan won't make it any less expensive at the tolls, but this new project to ditch cash lanes may get drivers in and out of New York City just a little bit faster.

800,000 vehicles pass through New York's bridges and tunnels daily, according to the MTA. And individual drivers wait as long as 1 hour and 45 minutes every month in cash lanes. It all averages out to a whopping 6,400 hours spent by all motorists every day sitting, waiting, waiting, sitting to pay cash tolls at MTA crossings.

Cuomo said the solution is automatic tolling. The New York Crossings Project would hang automated sensors above the road so drivers can zip through without stopping. Seven bridges and two tunnels will be retrofitted: Throgs Neck Bridge, Verrazano-narrows Bridge, Henry Hudson Bridge, RFK Bridge, Bronx-Whitestone Bridge, Queens-Midtown Tunnel, Hugh L. Carey Tunnel, Marine Parkway-Gil Hodges Memorial Bridge, and Cross Bay Veterans Memorial Bridge

Cuomo also acknowledged that New York is a potential terror target and that bridges and tunnels are particularly vulnerable.  For that reason, specialized security equipment will also be in the plans.

"Sensors that are reading license plates and are testing state-of-the-art facial recognition software, where now literally software is getting more and more sophisticated where it can read a face," Cuomo said. "We are going to be using this in Penn Farley, and we also want to be testing it on the bridges and crossing system, so we bring that security aspect to our crossings."

The plan would also install concrete barriers acting as temporary seals on both ends of tunnels to stop floodwaters from flowing in and devastating the infrastructure, as happened during Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

Bridges and tunnels will also be outfitted with energy-efficient LED lights that will be artistically designed.

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