OK explain why this is not an insane road sign

Driving south on I-95, I want to go through Baltimore’s McHenry Tunnel. Sign herds all drivers into two separate lanes, one says “EZ-PASS” (which i don’t have, because my car is registered in Florida, which uses a different system, Sunpass) and the other says “EZPASS, No Cash,” which doesn’t do me good either, because (I assume) if you don’t have EZ-PASS, you must pay cash. Or credit. Or get billed by mail according to your license plate. Or something else. Having no idea what to do, I take the “EZ_PASS, no cash” lane and slow down at the unmanned booth until someone behind me honks. I have no idea what just happened. Can some Baltimorean explain? Will I get billed? Did they give a free ride through the tunnel? Am I not allowed into the tunnel without EZ-PASS? WIll I get a ticket in the mail? Has your state gone insane?

Same goddamned thing happened on Maryland route 200 too. Makes no sense to me.

I admit that is confusing, I’m from the area and use EZ pass frequently on 200 and have no idea what that is supposed to mean. However, I can tell you what will happen. Since I accidentally let my credit card expire without telling EZ pass. A month of two from now you will recieve a bill in the mail with a photo of your license plate asking for some relatively nominal amount. It might be a bit higher than it would have been if you had EZ pass, but it won’t be punitive.

Bill in the mail - nice photo of your car and you pay what is called the “Video Toll Rate” which is 1.5 times the cash rate.

Looks like Maryland will accept your Sunpass. Check your account and see if it’s been transacted.

I think you need to have the newer Sunpass Pro transponder.

You can also try to look up your plate here. I don’t know if it gets into their system right away or not.

In Illinois, since the covid thing, manned toll booths have been closed. Drivers are advised to blast through the I-pass lane, and pay the bill online consequence free. Could it have been something like that? Where no one behind you was expecting someone to actually stop? It would be weird to keep those lanes open, though.

Yeah, I’m kind of used to signs advising you “DO NOT STOP” and “YOU WILL BE BILLED BY MAIL” and other helpful bits of info. This is just confusing.

Also why the eastern states (or every U.S. state) can’t get their shit together and have one system that works regardless of which state you live in seems to border on the edge of incompetence to me as well. I’m no IT savant but it seems that I could figure a way to make that work, given about $150 and an IT intern who gets $75 per hour.

I think that’s on Florida, the entire Northeast is on one system now, even Mass takes EZ Pass. In fact from Maine to Illinois and down to NC plus Minnesota.

Actually Florida has EZ Pass for Florida Turnpike & * Central Florida Expressway Authority

I remember Sunpass, was that for anything but near Orlando? I know Florida had 3 or more systems at one time. Crazy stuff.

Yep, looks like Maryland did the same:

Full-time all-electronic (cashless) tolling is permanent across Maryland, including at the John F. Kennedy Memorial Highway (I-95), Fort McHenry Tunnel (I-95), Baltimore Harbor Tunnel (I-895), and Nice/Middleton Bridge (US 301). All-electronic tolling was initially put in place statewide as a temporary measure on March 17, 2020, to assist customers during Maryland’s COVID-19 state of emergency.

With all-electronic tolling, drivers do not stop to pay tolls. Instead, tolls are collected through E-ZPass ®, Pay-By-Plate (NEW! See details below) and Video Tolling. The system provides convenience for motorists, less engine idling for better fuel efficiency and reduced emissions, decreased congestion, and increased safety.

I had the same thing only the other way around the last time I used the Oakland Bay Bridge in the pay direction. The approach was divided into Fast Pass (the California equivalent of EZ Pass) and Not. I got into the Not lane, spent about ten minutes getting to the booth, and tendered my debit card. “Cash only.”

“I don’t have five bucks cash on me.”

“Drive on – we’ll catch up with you.”

Two months later, in Arizona, I got a bill for $30 or I could set up a Fast Pass account putting a minimum of $25 into it and pay $5. I’m sure the identical amounts were a complete coincidence.

I went for the latter – Fast Pass is useful besides on the bridges – and a few weeks later I got the two transponders for my two vehicles. I’ve been in Fast Pass territory once since then, coming out of Long Beach during rush hour (why do they call it that?). I opted not to use the FP lane because it was not appreciably faster.

That sounds a lot like Socialism, my friend. Next thing, you’ll be wantin’ Universal Health Care, free money to Welfare Queens and imMIgrants, and everbody hasta get vaccinated and turn in their guns and Bibles. No siree. Each state has to do their own thing, by damn, no matter how much trouble it causes. Otherwise, we’d just be One Big Country, and nobody wants that.

It’s early. I think I’ll go back to bed.

Relevant to the thread title (if nothing else), here’s a hilarious clip of comedian K. Trevor Wilson talking about the worst road sign he’s ever seen.


Let’s go through the possibilities, given that the driver MUST pay:

  1. This lane accepts cash only.
  2. This lane accepts EZ-PASS only.
  3. This lane accepts EZ-PASS or cash.

What the OP describes sounds like the system originally started out cash-only. Then EZ-PASS was instituted and the sign “EZ-PASS” was put up to direct with EZ-PASS to that lane - which still accepted cash. But once the EZ-PASS only lane was instituted, that first sign should have been replaced with CASH OR EZ-PASS.

(I agree that states should get together on a lot of basic services. For example: License plate sales.)

I’m not sure when this changed, but currently FastPass just bills you the exact amount of the toll. I don’t have a transponder, and recently went over the Benicia Bridge, and a couple of weeks later I got a bill for $6. I didn’t have to create an account or pre-pay anything. They also support normal accounts, but using only the license plate rather than a transponder.

Perhaps it was different in 2017 or perhaps had I barreled through the FastPass lane instead of trying to pay at the manned booth I’da been charged only the $5 or perhaps it was my Arizona plates…

To be sure, the signage at the Bay Area bridges is pitifully inadequate. You just have to know how it will work. I’m pretty sure you can also pay on-line at the CalTrans web site, as well as read the instructions there.

Speaking of insanely shitty signage, I just happened to drive up I-280 into San Francisco earlier today, intending to find my way onto the eastbound Bay Bridge into Oakland and points beyond. This entails driving through multiple interchanges, I-280 onto U.S. 101 and thence to I-80, with plenty of other places you can go as well. There are multiple signs all along the way indicating which lanes to get in to go where, and they are all confusing to say the least and AFAICT some are just downright wrong. I ended up doing multiple lane changes, in bumper-to-bumper traffic, trying to be in the lane I thought those signs were indicating. I ended up in the correct lane finally, but what a PITA.

BTW, I figured out how to remember which way the tolls go in the Bay Area. There are eight toll bridges, all of which have tolls in one direction and free the other direction.

This is the mnemonic I devised to remember which way is free, for seven of those bridges: They all have one end in the East Bay area and the other end elsewhere. Just think: NOBODY wants to be in the East Bay, nor to pay money to get there, so those are the free directions. Everybody already in the East Bay will pay money to get out of there, so those are the toll directions. (The exception is the Golden Gate Bridge, which has neither end in the East Bay.)

I think it’s weird how 280 doesn’t directly lead to 80 and the Bay Bridge. Instead you technically have to leave the Interstate (280) and get on a US Highway (101) in order to get back to the Interstate (80) which takes you across the bridge to the East Bay. Of course in the metropolitan Bay Area (SoCal too, I assume) US Highways are essentially Interstates. Maybe that’s why in California we just call them all the same thing: Freeways.

And, the signs marking the entrances to various freeways in Oakland is even worse! I don’t remember the details well enough to get into them here I just remember it was hell.

I’ve got the SF lanes and signage down but somehow I can never remember the Oakland entrance/exits and the few signs that there are just make the matter far worse.

I don’t think that’s right. On the GG Bridge, last I looked, you pay to get INTO San Francisco, and it’s free going to Marin. In fact, even as I’m typing this, I see you’ve just deleted your post.