CHICOPEE, Mass. (WGGB) — A line stretched nearly the length of Big Y’s parking lot must mean someone’s giving something away.
Well, sort of.
Folks waited so they can get their E-ZPass, which will make things easier for some drivers.
“I go back and forth between Fall River and Boston to West Springfield, and it’s just easier than having to make sure you have cash on you. When you go down the pike, and you’re like, ‘oh crap, I don’t have the money on me,’ you’re like, fumbling for change underneath your seat,” Stacey Thomas said.
For the first time in Western Mass., the E-ZPass street team set up shop in Lee, and on Chicopee’s Memorial Drive, enticing drivers to sign up for transponders ahead of October 15, which is when the tolls will be reinstated on the pike in Western Mass. between exits 1 and 6.
“There’s 2 efforts going because they’ll actually have more work and more hours in the short term, because we’re going to maintain the current toll collection program which needs to be staffed. The state is looking at going to an all-electronic toll model. Our target is July 2016,” stated Frank DePola, MassDOT’s Highway Administrator.
That plan will eliminate toll workers altogether. Depola says some will retire, be retained for other jobs within the DOT, or will be laid off.
For now, Thursday’s event was such a draw because, as it turns out, some preferred to wait on line in person, instead of mailing their applications in.
“I think it’s much easier. I get to breathe nice air, and it’s such a beautiful day. It’s much better than staying inside,” Nelson Letendre beamed.
However, the opinion expressed Letendre is not shared with everyone.
“First of all, this line is ridiculous. If they’re going to put something out there like this for the public, they ought to be more staffed. My time’s valuable,” Ron Lareau adds.
Those who were not able to get an E-ZPass today can sign up for E-ZPass online or by phone at (877) 627-7745.
Next week, MassDOT will hold two mandatory public hearings – one in Lee and one in Springfield – to allow members of the public to provide feedback, learn more information on the toll reinstatement, answer any questions, or sign-up for E-ZPass.
The Springfield hearing is set for Thursday, September 12 at the MassMutual Center from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.