2 NJ bridges still accepting cash tolls amid coronavirus

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Two New Jersey bridges are still accepting cash toll payments, even though many expressways have suspended the option as to follow social-distancing protocols and minimize person-to-person contact.

The Tacony-Palmyra and Burlington-Bristol bridges are letting drivers pay their tolls in cash — which means toll booth workers are constantly interacting with drivers. 

As a result, they have to take proactive measures to remain coronavirus-free by using personal protective equipment (PPE) that's in high-demand among people fighting the virus on the frontlines.

“Toll collectors are equipped with gloves and wipes and masks, if they choose to wear them. The booths are cleaned out several times a day. Break rooms, cash rooms, they are all cleaned according to a new more rigorous schedule,” explained Liz Verna, spokesperson for the Burlington County Bridge Commission.

Health care workers across the country are demanding more equipment to fight this virus. Community members have pitched in by donating extra supplies or making their own, but they say it’s not enough.

Cases of coronavirus in the Garden State have surpassed 16,000.

However, Verna said those cash payments keep them operating, so they need their workers on the job. Plus, they do not have the technology to do toll-by-plate billing, a method that's being used by other sites. The Pennsylvania Turnpike, New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway are all cashless for the time being. 

Verna said there is no plan to let people use the bridges for free.

“I think we have an obligation to the people who don't have E-ZPass to be able to get to work — especially the first responders and people who work in health care across the bridge,” she said.