HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Each day thousands of drivers stop to pay the toll at the Ship Channel bridge, but on January 8, 2016, drivers will be required to use an EZ Tag. The bridge will shut down for approximately a week to remove the toll booths and install additional EZ Tag equipment. The Harris County Toll Road Authority hopes the move will make the drive faster and safer.
"By removing the plaza and taking away the toll collectors in the booth, we are going to be able to get more vehicles over the bridge during the day," said Mary Benton, spokesperson for HCTRA.
"It makes it safer for the driver and the toll collector, because unfortunately we have had those accidents where people who are not paying attention have hit some of our toll booths and injured some of our toll collectors," said Benton.
Until then, toll collectors are distributing flyers to drivers to help spread the word. Additionally, HCTRA has set up a temporary EZ Tag store at the Ship Channel bridge to encourage drivers to buy a toll tag on the spot.
Sergio Marin is one of the drivers who recently opened an EZ Tag account. He says having an EZ Tag has already made his commute faster.
"When there is a lot of traffic it takes too much time, so it's easier to have the EZ Tag," said Marin.
The Toll Road Authority is also offering a new re-loadable cash card you can stick on your windshield that allows customers without a debit or credit card to pass through the EZ Tag lanes.
The Ship Channel bridge joins the Westpark Tollway and Tomball Tollway as EZ Tag-only roads. Drivers will face a fine if they pass through the lanes without a tag. Fines are not issued until the third offense in a year. Drivers will be charged the tolls, plus the fines for each offense.
Ship Channel bridge to become EZ Tag only