No reason to slow down
Orlando is sporting a brand new bypass route around the city — Florida’s SR 429, also known as the Daniel Webster Western Beltway — that serves as an alternate north-south route to the heavily traveled I-4 and a back entrance to the city’s world-famous theme parks. The 11-mile segment of the Western Beltway is equipped with the Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s most technologically advanced open road tolling (ORT) gantries, which automatically record tolls as drivers pass beneath them.
In 1998, Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise began building the beltway, which also provides access to the state’s Central Florida Greeneway. At a cost of $313 million, the roadway’s new segment was designed to incorporate automated toll technology that also would ease maintenance.
The gantries allow drivers with SunPass transponders to pass through tolling points without slowing down, a typical characteristic of conventional toll booths or plazas, thereby reducing traffic congestion. The gantries, designated by large illuminated signs, are placed above the roadway’s two center lanes, and are equipped with radio frequency sensors that detect the transponder, lights, cameras, message signs and a violation enforcement system. The equipment automatically registers a toll and deducts the amount from the driver’s SunPass account. Drivers without transponders can pay the toll at cash collection booths located at the outer two lanes of the roadway.
The gantries’ design allows the Turnpike Enterprise to maintain toll equipment without shutting down traffic lanes. Traffic operators at a remote operations center use closed-caption television cameras on the gantry to monitor, detect and diagnose many problems, many of which can be repaired remotely. For field maintenance and repairs, technicians work along the roadside or access the equipment from the gantry walkway. Since the ORT gantries went into service, no maintenance requests or glitches have been reported.
Officials estimate the beltway’s 2007 toll revenue will reach approximately $2.5 million and will grow as more motorists use the new road. Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise already is working on the next ORT gantry installation on SR 528, the “Beach Line Expressway” in Orlando, which will open in February 2009.
— Kevin Hoeflich, vice president and program director for Tampa-based PBS&J.
Project: Open road tolling gantry installation
Jurisdiction: Orlando, Fla.
Agency: Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise
Vendors: PBS&J, Tampa, Fla.; URS, San Francisco; TransCore, Hummelstown, Pa.
Date completed: December 2006
Cost: $328 million