No stopping: Toll roads in Orange County cash free soon

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The days of using cash on Orange County toll roads are numbered.

Workers have begun removing toll booths from the 51 miles of toll roads that run through the  county, and officials say cash toll collection will end in May, although the exact date has yet to be determined.  

"We'll announce the exact date sometime within the next two weeks," said Lisa Telles with the Transportation Corridor Agencies. "We'll continue collecting cash through April."

TCA operates toll roads on the 73, 133, 241 and 261 expressways. 

The agency said 81 percent of the drivers using the roads have FasTrak accounts - a transponder electronic toll collection system used throughout California. 

But, about 16 percent of people still use cash.

A new account option allows people to be billed when images of their license plate is taken on the toll roads. Drivers have to sign up for the new ExpressAccounts and, unlike FasTrak, those new accounts only work on the Orange County toll roads. 

For people that don't set up an Express or FasTrak account, there is a one-time toll option for visitors and infrequent users. Drivers can pay online at www.thetollroads.com or use the Toll Roads free mobile app.

If drivers fail to pay using the one-time toll option, they are sent a violation notice with a penalty.

Last week, toll booths were removed from the 73 Toll Road's Catalina Mainline Toll Plaza. One cash collection booth was removed in each direction, and the agency said the wider lane created will be used by trucks once the toll roads are cash free. 

Telles said initially, the smaller toll booths at on and off ramps will be barricaded.

She said new signs will be installed along the toll roads explaining the new cash free system. 

Telle said the cash free tolling is expected to save the TCA $13.3 million in the first five years. 

She said 80 full and part-time toll booth attendants will be affected by the change. Telles said they are employed by a company that manages about 700 parking facilities in Southern California and are expected to be reassigned to other jobs. 

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