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Drivers getting used to cashless tolls on Grand Island Bridges

GRAND ISLAND, N.Y. (WIVB) - Cashless tolling has been in operation at the Grand Island Bridges for more than two weeks. For the most part, things appear to be going smoothly. But one viewer reached out to News 4 with an issue. It’s something that could happen to any driver on the road.

Albert Gai goes onto Grand Island only a handful of times each year, so he says it’s not worth it to buy an E-ZPass. He crossed the bridge last Monday, and wanted to pay his toll right away by phone. He says miscommunication prevented him from doing so.

“One of the pros is that you eliminate congestion at the base of the bridge,” Gai said about cashless tolling. “The traffic is able to flow a little better, so you don’t have a bottleneck.”

It’s not all bad, Gai says. But the issue he experienced last week left a sour taste in his mouth. He saw a sign with a phone number to call so that the toll can be paid as he was crossing the bridge. There are eight such signs near the tolls. That phone number is **826.

“I was able to see the sign,” Gai said. “The numbers were large enough that I could see 826. I didn’t make out that there were one or two stars in front of it.”

Gai was more focused on the road than he was the sign.

Of course, when he tried calling the wrong number, he couldn’t get through. So he called the New York State Department of Transportation, which referred him to the Thruway Authority. Guy says he was given two numbers to call, neither of which were **826.

“I called both,” he said. “I couldn’t get through.”

When Matt Driscoll, the Thruway Authority’s executive director, was in town last month, he pointed out the system was set up so that someone in Gai’s situation wouldn’t be charged a late fee, yet.

“If you don’t pay it, we bill you by mail,” Driscoll said. “If you don’t respond to that letter, we bill you against by mail after 60 days. If you don’t respond to that, after 100 days a fee would be applied.”

At this point, Gai says he’ll just wait for the first bill to come.

Thruway Authority officials couldn’t comment on his specific experience. They did, however, say that the removal of the old tolls is progressing. Phase two of that project should begin soon.


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