Few things have been quite as annoying as fumbling for change while waiting in lines at toll plazas on the New York State Thruway and the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. Waiting in lines while drivers ahead of you fumbled for change was even more annoying.

As of Nov. 1, this annoyance will go away. Motorists will cruise through what was once a brick-and-mortar toll plaza on the Catskill side of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, under a bevy of steel gantries, and cross the bridge east across the Hudson River. If you have EZPass, the toll will be charged to your credit card. If you don’t have EZPass, your license plate will be photographed by high-speed cameras on the gantry and you will receive a bill in the mail.

As far as local travel goes, this will be a sea change. Driving conditions will be transformed. Vehicles getting onto the bridge on the Greene County side will be funnelled through the gantry into a single lane of traffic. Westbound traffic will go through the gantry unfettered and continue on its way into Catskill. We have to wonder how fast vehicles will go on the Catskill bridge approach. We hope it doesn’t look like Exit 24 of the New York State Thruway: a drag race as drivers try to get onto the single eastbound lane first.

Our advice to motorists is buy your EZPass, put away your change and drive responsibly through the gantry. Take it slow. Keep it safe. And enjoy the scenic ride.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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