Sat | Jul 21, 2018

Toll by ticket

Published:Sunday | March 27, 2016 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju
Motorists travel through the Caymanas toll booth in St Catherine on the North-South Highway.
An aerial view of sections of the North-South Highway.
Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller (left) gives Alicia Wasome and Christine Stephenson her full attention as they demonstrate the system that allows the operators to monitor the entire toll road during last week's official opening of the North-South link of Highway 2000.
Motorists on a section of the newly opened highway.

Even for motorists accustomed to driving on the North-South link of Highway 2000 using it is now a totally new experience, starting at their point of entry along the 66 kilometre roadway running from Angels and Caymanas in St Catherine to Mammee Bay, St Ann.

Motorists are presented with a toll card at the entry booth but do not pay any money there. They pay at the exit booth when the card is presented to the toll clerk, who enters it into a machine which calculates the fee.

The toll booths at the Mount Rosser collection point have been dismantled, which should result in a reduction in drive time. However, the traffic police have declared that they will be maintaining a strong presence on the highway, in order to temper the indiscretion of motorists who are likely to yield to the temptation to exceed the 80-kilometre per hour speed limit.

And the operators have provided enough evidence to support their claim of a secure roadway, during visits to their toll maintenance administrative offices at Treadways, St Catherine, by Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller last week.

There the operators showcased aspects of the digital surveillance system which allows them to have a clear view of all sections of the roadway, picking up vehicles at all six entry points in real time. In addition to the ability to track vehicles, the system allows for their identification, including make, model, and registration (licence) number.

If a motorist commits a breach, such as trying to break though an exit booth without paying, this triggers a red flag and even if the vehicle gets away, the next time it enters the system, at whatever point, will trigger an alarm.

With the service station to be built across from the rest stop at Unity Valley in St Ann yet to be constructed there are no refuelling stops along the highway, so motorists are advised to top up before starting their journey. And it wouldn't hurt to ensure that the vehicle is in good shape before starting out, since the steep inclines could take a toll on the engine.

However, if your vehicle is good condition and your pocket is up to it, the new tollway offers a new and exciting driving experience.