Ship Channel Bridge set to go EZ Tag-only

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Traffic is going to look a little different as Houston Ship Channel changes over to require an EZ Tag beginning next week. (KTRK)

The Houston Ship Channel bridge will look a bit different next week. Over the weekend workers will be installing all-electronic tolling, and that means you will need to have an EZ Tag to cross the bridge.

Greg Contreras makes the hour-long commute from Atascocita to Pasadena every day, which takes him across the Beltway 8 Ship Channel Bridge.

"I work right next to 225 and the beltway, that's my only way home," he explains.

Greg is not alone. In the past three years, traffic over the bridge has increased by 40 percent, creating a bottleneck during rush hour.

"I have an EZ Tag so I'm on the EZ Tag side, and when cars start passing me trying to get into it... it just gets frustrating."

That's one reason the Harris County Toll Road Authority is transitioning the bridge to EZ Tag only. The hope is to make driving the bridge faster and safer, by keeping people from stopping to pay cash.

The Ship Channel bridge closes this weekend to remove the toll booths and coin collectors. Any procrastinators can pick up a tag through Friday at HCTRA's EZ Tag store right by the bridge. During the last week, approximately 100 people per day have visited the store.

Drivers now have the option to purchase a reloadable electronic BancPass card. The cards work just like EZ Tag, but you can still pay cash in advance.

The change is all part of a master plan to rebuild the bridge with more lanes (four lanes and a shoulder), in each direction. The five-year project is slated to begin in 2017.
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