BEAVER (KDKA) – The Beaver Valley Expressway covers 16 toll miles from Chippewa North — and it will be the first to go all-electric, eliminating the need for toll takers.

Those without E-ZPass traveling the expressway will have their license plates photographed in a “toll by plate” system. They’ll be mailed a bill, but it will cost 40 percent more.

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But Turnpike Commission Chair Sean Logan believes in the value of the more than 600 toll takers and finds the unknowns of the electronic system troublesome.

“We’re going to take a look at your license plate, run that through our system, find you — hope we find you,” he said.

He says an E-ZPass only interchange just opened on the northeast exchange and is a good example.

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“Our first 10 days taught us a lot,” he said, “taught us 4,500 vehicles went through the extension without E-ZPass. That’s tremendous pressure on the Turnpike to find those people and bill them.”

Logan says toll takers cost the Turnpike $60-70 million a year, but there are too many hidden and unknown costs to the electronic system to know whether it will truly be cheaper.

Thus the pilot program, which begins next June on the Beaver Valley Expressway, then on to the Mon, Fayette and 66 in Westmoreland County.

If everything went flawlessly — and Logan has his doubts — the entire Turnpike system could stop using tickets or taking cash in five or six years.

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