NEW GLOUCESTER, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - The Maine Turnpike has opened its first open roadtoll plaza, removing construction barricades and allowing drivers to bypass the toll takers and keep on cruising at highway speeds.

TheMaine Turnpike Authority says there's one high-speed lane in each direction and three other lanes that can be used by cash or E-ZPass drivers traveling at slow speeds. The system works with overhead equipment detecting a vehicle's E-ZPass tag and automatically deducting the correct amount from the driver's account.

"What we want people to know is if you get caught up in that E-Z Pass only lane, continue to drive through, do NOT stop," explained Dan Morin,a spokeman for the MTA. "There is a sign at the end of each direction that has the MTA's phone number and you can call us and we'd be happy to assist you with paying that toll."

The MTA says open road tolling improves operating efficiency, reduces emissions by not requiring trucks and cars stop and get back up to speed and is safer because it separates vehicles that are stopping or slowing down from others that are driving through.

Turnpike officials say the system will add convenience for motorists, cut operating costs and reduce vehicle emissions. About 80 percent of the turnpike's commercial traffic and 60 percent of passenger vehicles pay tolls electronically.

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