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I-Team: State To Collect Tolls In Both Directions On Tobin Bridge

BOSTON (CBS) - The WBZ I-Team has confirmed drivers will soon have to pay a toll in both directions on the Tobin Bridge.

A spokesman with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) said crews installed the infrastructure for all-electronic tolling on June 2. The equipment is now visible as drivers enter the Tobin Bridge in the northbound direction.

Vehicles have been tolled for years as they entered Boston southbound on the bridge. The current toll is $2.50 driving into Boston.

Now it will be $1.25 each way, MassDOT said.

In a statement, MassDOT says the "tolls are not scheduled to be "live" until the end of the year, at such time as All Electronic Tolling is scheduled to go "live" state-wide."

Commuter Matthew McNeff takes the Tobin Bridge every day and said plenty of people plan their routes around where they have to pay tolls.

McNeff contacted the I-Team when he noticed the infrastructure suddenly appear.

"It's funny, when I looked up I was like, were these there before?" McNeff said. "No they weren't, they just sort of showed up."

McNeff knew right away these toll gantries were brand new, so he wanted to know more.

"I came home, I went on DOT website and see if there is any information, I thought maybe they are cutting tolls in half or going to both ways no information," McNeff said. "So I said 'gee this is really odd.'"

Tobin tolls
Tolling structure for northbound lanes of Tobin Bridge (WBZ-TV)

MassDOT expects the tolls will be up and running around October.

"It's frustrating because a little transparency goes a long way," McNeff said. "Thousands of people use the bridge every day. What's to stop a toll from going up in other places? It's a revenue stream that doesn't seem to end."

MassDOT insists they held hearings in 2013 and told some local officials about the plan. WBZ contacted Chelsea City Manager Thomas Ambrosino, who said he had heard nothing about the plan to toll drivers heading northbound on the bridge.

Calls to the House and Senate chairs of the Joint Transportation Committee have yet to be returned.

Tobin tolls
New Tobin Bridge toll infrastructure (WBZ-TV)

Drivers like McNeff say where was the notice?

One commuter says, "It is a surprise to me, you would think it would be a big deal, it should be a big deal!"

Another commuter says, "they didn't say anything and that's kind of surprising."

For commuters, it's a headache many will try and now avoid.

Another commuter said, "A lot of people are trying to find another way around instead of taking a toll and another toll."

MassDOT rolled out all electronic tolling on the bridge in 2014.

However, that pilot project was a source of controversy. The I-Team aired series of report about drivers who faced the loss of their licenses—or even jobs—because of enormous late fees.

MassDOT eventually announced it was dramatically lowering the fine amounts, and also offered an amnesty program to forgive drivers who had racked up thousands of dollars in late fees.

Ryan Kath can be reached at You can follow him on Twitter or connect on Facebook.

WBZ-TV's Kate Merrill contributed to this report.

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