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Author Topic: Toll road service area positioning  (Read 32942 times)

jeffandnicole

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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #25 on: August 01, 2012, 10:07:54 AM »

The Atlantic City Service Area on the Garden State Parkway in NJ is easily accessed via local county route 561 (Jimmie Leads Rd).  This always had a strange history.  Originally it was designed to be just an access road for employees for the service plaza, but general traffic started using it to access the service plaza and the highway, as well as using the service plaza as a park-and-ride.  The authority and county continually upgraded the access road and intersection to provide for easier access, widening it and adding a traffic light at the Rt. 561 intersection, and adding signs within the plaza for Jimmie Leads Rd, while the whole time maintaining it's not an official entry/exit point for the Parkway. 

The problem is now the Parkway is building an official interchange there (Exit 41), utilizing a normal diamond ramp system from the mainline parkway to 561.  The problem many locals have is it will cut off their access to the service plaza.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #26 on: August 01, 2012, 12:11:56 PM »

What I found interesting in Florida was the way the service plazas were positioned in the median even on the "ticket system" portion, and there was nothing preventing a driver from turning around via the service area if he so chose.
...
But the Florida setup was the first time I could recall seeing median-based service plazas on a ticket-system toll road and I found myself thinking, "You know, this makes a lot of sense, and if you're paranoid about U-turns you could just design the place to prevent traffic from crossing over." If you really wanted to do it right you could probably set up the gas station with a wall down the middle to segregate the traffic.
...
So what is the rationale for preferring to locate the service plazas on the outside of the road, given that it requires the construction of additional facilities and adds the expense of additional maintenance?

Florida's Turnpike was created from scratch in the 1950s, whereas I'm guessing that many toll roads in the Northeast were created from roads that were already in existence. Maybe it was just easier to modify service facilities that were also already there, in some form or another. I don't know enough about them, to be honest. What I have read is that the Florida's Turnpike involved some of cost cutting during its initial construction; some plazas were never built, and many interchanges had to wait to be implemented fully.

There's only eight service plazas on the FT; the ones in urban areas are very close to exits, so there's very little compelling reason to jump around from northbound to southbound. Back during the proliferation of the ticket system, the ticket would denote what toll booth you received the ticket from (it would be hole-punched at the toll plaza at the beginning of the trumpet interchange), and from which direction, if you received it one from one of the barrier tolls. The bottom of the card warned you that you'd pay the maximum toll if you didn't rejoin properly, or if the card went missing.

The service plazas in rural areas also feature exits that are quite some distance apart; there would be no actual gain by wasting 40+ miles just to make a U-turn. Why spend money on a wall or fence to save people from wasting their time from their own idiocy? Most motorists don't intentionally do this, since you'd pay a fee coming back one way or the other when you leave the Turnpike.

I can think of one place where you can pay no toll whatsoever, but you spend more time and mileage doing so, rather than just using the surface streets. We made good use of it when I worked at a dealership, but only if you wanted to "duplicate" vibrations, noise, rattles, et cetera at highway speeds, without causing mayhem on the local roads and keeping customers' mileage low. Get off at one exit before the service plaza and barrier toll, drive a mile or two, rejoin via a legal U-turn at the service plaza, then use the same exit northbound after "crossing over". It's pretty well signed so that motorists don't go the wrong way within the plazas.

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« Last Edit: August 01, 2012, 03:52:57 PM by formulanone »
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #27 on: August 01, 2012, 12:15:10 PM »

Florida's Turnpike was created from scratch in the 1950s, whereas I'm guessing that many toll roads in the Northeast were created from roads that were already in existence. Maybe it was just easier to modify service facilities that were also already there, in some form or another. I don't know enough about them, to be honest.

The northeast toll roads were created from scratch too, mostly in the late 40s/early 50s. There were no existing freeways, and no existing service plazas.

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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #28 on: August 01, 2012, 12:24:59 PM »

what is the concern with U-turns?  can someone give an example of avoiding paying a fare through strategic use of U-turns?

the way I am imagining it, you are issued a ticket based on where you enter, and if you end up going in the "wrong direction" they either will not notice (because the ticket is identical to go in either direction at a given entry point), or they will notice and charge you the maximum, as though you had entered at the most costly endpoint of the toll road.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2012, 12:30:50 PM »

what is the concern with U-turns?  can someone give an example of avoiding paying a fare through strategic use of U-turns?

the way I am imagining it, you are issued a ticket based on where you enter, and if you end up going in the "wrong direction" they either will not notice (because the ticket is identical to go in either direction at a given entry point), or they will notice and charge you the maximum, as though you had entered at the most costly endpoint of the toll road.

The latter is how it works in New Jersey. I haven't gotten a toll ticket there since 2001, but the last time I saw one it looked the same as they had since at least the 1970s—the entry point number was in large print and then for every other interchange it listed the toll from your entry point. Instead of listing a toll for your entry point it said "No U-Turn," and if you either lost the ticket or made a U-turn you would be charged the highest possible toll for your vehicle class. I understand this as meaning as though you had gone from the southernmost end all the way to the northernmost end or vice-versa—not the highest possible toll from your entry point. It makes sense to make it the highest possible, period, if you lump lost toll tickets in there, because how would they know where the person with the lost ticket entered?

Of course, they'd only know you made a U-turn if you got off at the same interchange where you started—say if you had left your wallet at a restaurant or some such and you cut a u-ie to go back and get it. If you entered the Turnpike at its southern end, drove all the way up to Newark, then used one of the "authorized vehicles only" overpasses to turn around and drive back to I-195 to go to Trenton, you'd be charged for the drive from Exit 1 to Exit 7A without regard for the U-turn, as they'd have no way of knowing you'd gone all that extra distance unless a cop caught you on the turnaround.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2012, 12:47:46 PM »

I understand this as meaning as though you had gone from the southernmost end all the way to the northernmost end or vice-versa—not the highest possible toll from your entry point.

I would assume the highest possible toll given your exit point.  for southern exits, it would be the assumption that you entered at the north end.  for northern exits, the assumption is that you entered at the south end.  there is some point in the middle where the source of the maximum changes polarity.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2012, 02:29:05 PM »

what is the concern with U-turns?  can someone give an example of avoiding paying a fare through strategic use of U-turns?
I think it's to avoid widespread exchanging of tickets with other drivers.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2012, 02:38:32 PM »


I think it's to avoid widespread exchanging of tickets with other drivers.

can't this be achieved even in the absence of U-turns?  the way I understand the NJTP ticket system, you'd just need to meet someone traveling in the opposite direction as you and exchange tickets over a fence. 

for example, A wants to travel exits 2 to 18, and B to travel exits 17 to 1. 

A gives B a "2" ticket, B gives A a "17" ticket.

A exits at 18 with his 17 ticket.  B exits at 1 with his 2 ticket.  They both save.  No U-turns needed.

edit: apparently the exits above "14" get a bit interesting.  assume for the purpose of this discussion they just go 14, 15, 16, 17, 18.  I believe my point remains valid.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2012, 02:40:48 PM by agentsteel53 »
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2012, 02:43:49 PM »


I think it's to avoid widespread exchanging of tickets with other drivers.

can't this be achieved even in the absence of U-turns?  the way I understand the NJTP ticket system, you'd just need to meet someone traveling in the opposite direction as you and exchange tickets over a fence. 

for example, A wants to travel exits 2 to 18, and B to travel exits 17 to 1. 

A gives B a "2" ticket, B gives A a "17" ticket.

A exits at 18 with his 17 ticket.  B exits at 1 with his 2 ticket.  They both save.  No U-turns needed.

Yeah, I suppose so. (Though the more plausible scenario is that A gets on at 1, B at 18, and then they get off early at 17 and 2 to avoid the restriction on U-turning.)

[edit]I was talking about the prohibition on U-turning built into the system. The separation of lanes at service plazas is most likely done so eejits don't get on the wrong way after gassing up.


Apparently Florida allows U-turns: http://www.floridasturnpike.com/downloads/Indexed%20U%20Turn%20Rates.pdf I would guess that the 10 cent toll at Lake Worth is to encourage locals to use the service plaza.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2012, 02:48:13 PM by NE2 »
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #34 on: August 01, 2012, 02:46:40 PM »

Yeah, I suppose so. (Though the more plausible scenario is that A gets on at 1, B at 18, and then they get off early at 17 and 2 to avoid the restriction on U-turning.)

good point.  I'd done the necessary shift backwards in my head. 
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2012, 03:19:16 PM »


can't this be achieved even in the absence of U-turns?  the way I understand the NJTP ticket system, you'd just need to meet someone traveling in the opposite direction as you and exchange tickets over a fence. 

Except...there are no common service plazas or other areas where one can meet up to exchange tickets.  Which could also be a reason why the service plazas are separate for Northbound and Southbound traffic.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #36 on: August 01, 2012, 03:26:39 PM »


I think it's to avoid widespread exchanging of tickets with other drivers.

can't this be achieved even in the absence of U-turns?  the way I understand the NJTP ticket system, you'd just need to meet someone traveling in the opposite direction as you and exchange tickets over a fence. 

for example, A wants to travel exits 2 to 18, and B to travel exits 17 to 1. 

A gives B a "2" ticket, B gives A a "17" ticket.

A exits at 18 with his 17 ticket.  B exits at 1 with his 2 ticket.  They both save.  No U-turns needed.

Yeah, I suppose so. (Though the more plausible scenario is that A gets on at 1, B at 18, and then they get off early at 17 and 2 to avoid the restriction on U-turning.)

[edit]I was talking about the prohibition on U-turning built into the system. The separation of lanes at service plazas is most likely done so eejits don't get on the wrong way after gassing up.


Apparently Florida allows U-turns: http://www.floridasturnpike.com/downloads/Indexed%20U%20Turn%20Rates.pdf I would guess that the 10 cent toll at Lake Worth is to encourage locals to use the service plaza.

Florida does allow U-turns at the service areas; as I said in my original post to start this thread, that's what prompted me to begin the discussion.

AARoads has the following picture of the Port St Lucie Service Plaza on Florida's Turnpike. The caption quoted below appears on the page where this photo resides. That particular plaza is the one at which I stopped in Florida that prompted me to raise the question here.

Quote


Turnpike trailblazers posted within the Port St. Lucie Service Plaza. The concept of being able to turn around at a service plaza is unheard of along other ticketed turnpikes such as those in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. When turning around on those, the maximum toll is levied onto motorists, as U-turns are illegal otherwise. Photo taken 02/16/08.


Here is an aerial view of where that plaza is located.]http://binged.it/OpAHT8]Here is an aerial view of where that plaza is located. I have no idea when the surrounding area was developed since HistoricAerials.com doesn't have old pictures there.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #37 on: August 01, 2012, 03:55:30 PM »

Apparently Florida allows U-turns: http://www.floridasturnpike.com/downloads/Indexed%20U%20Turn%20Rates.pdf I would guess that the 10 cent toll at Lake Worth is to encourage locals to use the service plaza.

Heh, reminds me of the first time I drove on the Crosstown Expressway in 1994; the Willow Avenue exit was 10 cents. They should have just asked for a dollar from every tenth car.
« Last Edit: August 01, 2012, 03:59:38 PM by formulanone »
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #38 on: August 01, 2012, 04:04:09 PM »


Except...there are no common service plazas or other areas where one can meet up to exchange tickets.  Which could also be a reason why the service plazas are separate for Northbound and Southbound traffic.

I wonder how much more marginally expensive it is to build two sets of facilities.  and then, divide that by the loss in revenue of the average ticket swap scam.  I'm imagining that a lot of dishonest folks are needed to make that be the reason for two facilities. 

the logical conclusion is: there's another reason.  it probably does have more to do with employee access than anything else. 
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #39 on: August 01, 2012, 07:18:45 PM »

Somehow I can't help but feel that we're overthinking this. It seems to me that the question of one service plaza versus two was probably not the subject of extensive analysis and deliberation when these old toll roads were laid out. There is no particular reason for two instead of one, it's just the way the planners drew it up and no one thought to question it.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #40 on: August 01, 2012, 07:45:42 PM »

I understand this as meaning as though you had gone from the southernmost end all the way to the northernmost end or vice-versa—not the highest possible toll from your entry point.

I would assume the highest possible toll given your exit point.  for southern exits, it would be the assumption that you entered at the north end.  for northern exits, the assumption is that you entered at the south end.  there is some point in the middle where the source of the maximum changes polarity.
This is the correct interpretation. As for places to exchange tickets, you could both pull over at an interchange, swap, and then both U-turn before the plaza. I don't think they would look too kindly on that.

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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #41 on: August 01, 2012, 08:00:55 PM »

This is the correct interpretation. As for places to exchange tickets, you could both pull over at an interchange, swap, and then both U-turn before the plaza. I don't think they would look too kindly on that.

the only time I've ever U-turned was to take photos of both gantries featuring black signs on the Turnpike Extension.  I still ended up paying something like $7 to drive effectively nowhere, so I don't think they protested too much.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #42 on: August 01, 2012, 08:01:03 PM »

Somehow I can't help but feel that we're overthinking this. It seems to me that the question of one service plaza versus two was probably not the subject of extensive analysis and deliberation when these old toll roads were laid out. There is no particular reason for two instead of one, it's just the way the planners drew it up and no one thought to question it.

I don't know about that.

Having one service plaza to serve both directions (especially if the directional flows of traffic are rather different from each other) would get more use out of one set of service plaza buildings and related infrastructure (employee and patron parking capacity, electric, (possibly) gas, water, sewer, and stormwater management). 

IMO, having a service plaza on the median, with flyovers for access and egress (for purposes of discussion, I am not assuming a "dual-dual" configuration like parts of the New Jersey Turnpike), or a Sidling Hill-style plaza on one side, with ramps for traffic from the other side, would seem to make the most sense,  if the land is available.

And there's the curious matter of the Ontario Service Centre on Highway 400 near Cookstown, where the service plaza is located inside a rather expansive interchange (in terms of land area, not complexity) at Ontario Route 89 (Google Maps here).  Of course, Highway 400, like most limited-access highways in Ontario, does not charge tolls, so there are no issues with U-turns and the like - and no silly federal prohibition against "commercial" service plazas on the "free" freeway network either - though the one modern toll road in Ontario, Highway 407, does not have service plazas, perhaps because it runs through a mostly suburban area.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #43 on: August 01, 2012, 08:05:58 PM »

Apparently Florida allows U-turns: http://www.floridasturnpike.com/downloads/Indexed%20U%20Turn%20Rates.pdf I would guess that the 10 cent toll at Lake Worth is to encourage locals to use the service plaza.

Heh, reminds me of the first time I drove on the Crosstown Expressway in 1994; the Willow Avenue exit was 10 cents. They should have just asked for a dollar from every tenth car.

At least some of the ramp tolls (exact change only) on the old (now de-tolled) Norfolk-Virginia Beach Expressway (Va. Route 44 back then, I-264 now) were a dime (and there were signs warning TOLL VIOLATORS PROSECUTED - though for a dime, I wonder how many people were actually prosecuted by the Commonwealth).
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #44 on: August 01, 2012, 08:36:51 PM »

This is the correct interpretation. As for places to exchange tickets, you could both pull over at an interchange, swap, and then both U-turn before the plaza. I don't think they would look too kindly on that.

the only time I've ever U-turned was to take photos of both gantries featuring black signs on the Turnpike Extension.  I still ended up paying something like $7 to drive effectively nowhere, so I don't think they protested too much.
A lot cheaper: Get on at 14A (the busy one), then get off at 14B, stop for a moment and line up your photo (very uncrowded there).

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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #45 on: August 01, 2012, 08:38:25 PM »


Except...there are no common service plazas or other areas where one can meet up to exchange tickets.  Which could also be a reason why the service plazas are separate for Northbound and Southbound traffic.

I wonder how much more marginally expensive it is to build two sets of facilities.  and then, divide that by the loss in revenue of the average ticket swap scam.  I'm imagining that a lot of dishonest folks are needed to make that be the reason for two facilities. 

the logical conclusion is: there's another reason.  it probably does have more to do with employee access than anything else. 

I suspect one of the reasons to build dual plazas has little to do with either deterring ticket "cheaters" or improving employee access.  IMO, there's a much more practical reason - to minimize the chances of patrons re-entering the highway in the wrong direction (not "wrong way" entry, but going north when they intended to go south).

As far as the economics, I agree that the Illinois Tollway has the right idea - have separate (and divided) parking facilities that connect to common food services above the highway.

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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #46 on: August 01, 2012, 09:27:28 PM »

I suspect one of the reasons to build dual plazas has little to do with either deterring ticket "cheaters" or improving employee access.  IMO, there's a much more practical reason - to minimize the chances of patrons re-entering the highway in the wrong direction (not "wrong way" entry, but going north when they intended to go south).

As far as the economics, I agree that the Illinois Tollway has the right idea - have separate (and divided) parking facilities that connect to common food services above the highway.

Come to think of it, I can think of one reason toll road authorities might have an incentive to prevent U-turns: extra revenue could be made from people who miss their exits if they aren't allowed to turn around and go back to their intended exit.  I guess some turnpike authorities (New Jersey and Pennsylvania) just feel more strongly about this than others (Florida and Kansas).
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #47 on: August 01, 2012, 09:33:13 PM »

As far as general U-turn issues, I believe the big reason they hate it is because U-turns on freeways (and everywhere else except some intersections on expressways) are illegal in the northeast.  The service areas that have separated parking areas could easily be idiot prevention.  The separate facilities is just how they got laid out - most of the time the facilities for the other direction are miles away anyways.
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #48 on: August 01, 2012, 10:21:11 PM »

Yeah, we had a discussion about that service area, and the related toll setup, last year. Apparently the nearby barrier tolls necessitated a voucher system (done electronically for E-ZPass users) so they could use the service area without paying another toll. I commented on this and was told I was wrong, but nobody rebutted the materials I linked to show where I got that information (the last time I went past Portland on that road was 1989 going to and from PEI, and we didn't stop at that service area because we had just made an extended stop at LL Bean).

The Vauxhall service area on the GSP is like this and used to have a nasty twist. The service area is on the northbound side of the highway. There are signs at southbound Exit 141 (Vauxhall Rd.) advertising the service area. All you have to do is exit, make a left and there is local access to the service area (this also serves as an official northbound onramp). Here is where it used to get evil, to get back onto the Parkway, you have to get back on Vauxhall Rd., cross the GSP, make a right onto Union Ave. and use an on-ramp just north of the Union Toll Plaza. Prior to this plaza going one way, southbound traffic wanting to use the Vauxhall service area had to privilege of paying the Union barrier toll twice!
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Re: Toll road service area positioning
« Reply #49 on: August 02, 2012, 10:14:29 PM »

Yeah, we had a discussion about that service area, and the related toll setup, last year. Apparently the nearby barrier tolls necessitated a voucher system (done electronically for E-ZPass users) so they could use the service area without paying another toll. I commented on this and was told I was wrong, but nobody rebutted the materials I linked to show where I got that information (the last time I went past Portland on that road was 1989 going to and from PEI, and we didn't stop at that service area because we had just made an extended stop at LL Bean).

The Vauxhall service area on the GSP is like this and used to have a nasty twist. The service area is on the northbound side of the highway. There are signs at southbound Exit 141 (Vauxhall Rd.) advertising the service area. All you have to do is exit, make a left and there is local access to the service area (this also serves as an official northbound onramp). Here is where it used to get evil, to get back onto the Parkway, you have to get back on Vauxhall Rd., cross the GSP, make a right onto Union Ave. and use an on-ramp just north of the Union Toll Plaza. Prior to this plaza going one way, southbound traffic wanting to use the Vauxhall service area had to privilege of paying the Union barrier toll twice!
Or anyone in the know could head down Vauxhall to Stuyvesant and get on at 140/141 for free. Of course, there's the opposite twist, which is that the service area becomes a de facto last chance NB exit. The catch is that it's actually slower than Chestnut when heading west.

 


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