By John Toole
---- — CONCORD — New Hampshire is giving drivers a new option to avoid stopping at tolls, without getting locked into E-ZPass.
Under the “Prepay A NH Trip” program, people can pay ahead to use both open road tolling and E-ZPass lanes.
State Department of Transportation spokesman William Boynton said the program is available now and intended for occasional users of the turnpike system.
“This is an option being offered for the infrequent New Hampshire turnpikes user and those who may be visiting the state for a period of time,” Boynton said.
Participants would avoid the $8.90 expense for a transponder, but wouldn’t get the 30 percent savings provided to E-ZPass users.
Tolls cost between 50 cents and $2 in New Hampshire.
Tai Freleigh, spokesman for the state Division of Travel and Tourism, said he sees the program benefitting vacationers in the Granite State.
“Any time you can make travelers’ time through the tolls quicker, that makes it a lot more pleasant for them,” Freleigh said. “This will make life easier.”
Turnpike administrator Chris Waszczuk said similar pay-per-plate programs are in use in Florida and with California’s Golden Gate Bridge.
“What we’re trying to do is make it more convenient for people and give them more options,” he said.
Waszczuk said the New Hampshire program is in response to those travelers who said they weren’t using E-ZPass because they only had to pay the tolls a few times a year.
Others didn’t want to tie up their money in an E-ZPass account, he said.
“Now, they will have the convenience of using dedicated E-ZPass lanes or open-road toll lanes,” Waszczuk said.
People signing up for “Prepay A NH Trip” establish an account by registering a license plate.
Images of the plate traveling through E-ZPass or an open toll lane then will be matched to the account. The toll will be automatically deducted from the account.
Accounts require a minimum balance of $1.
Multiple vehicles can be registered and there is no limit on the number of trips.
People can replenish their account by credit card.
Boynton said 65.3 percent of turnpike travelers, or about two out of every three users, rely on E-ZPass.
Unlike E-ZPass, the program only works in New Hampshire.
For more information, about “Prepay A NH Trip,” visit https://www.ezpassnh.com/en/prepay/prepay.shtml.