Tuesday, January 3, 2012

No EZPass on the Dingmans Ferry Bridge

I was one of the EZPass holdouts until October, when I got this while using a staffed tollbooth:


Ridiculous as it is not to be able to use paper money on the Parkway, I finally relented and picked up a transponder. I still keep pocket change in the car, though, as there are places in the region where EZPass has yet to extend its tentacled detectors.

Take, for example, the Dingmans Ferry bridge, which links Layton, Sussex County, to Pennsylvania in the Delaware Water Gap. This privately owned river crossing is decidedly low tech, with not even an automated collection basket. One toll collector stands on the line between the two lanes at the Pennsy side, taking tolls from both directions, protected by an awning. The north side of the awning is held up by a little toll house, while the south side is essentially a trellis with signs posted for the next Kiwanis pancake breakfast or Girl Scout fundraiser. It's been this way pretty much since the bridge was constructed, the fourth in a series that runs back to 1835.

Starting a century before that, Andrew Dingman ran a successful ferry service between Layton and Pike County, PA, until one of his descendants opened the first of the bridges. Seemingly, neither that bridge nor the two that succeeded it were constructed to withstand the elements brought by the Delaware and the occasional flood. Today's bridge was built in 1900 of sturdy steel and is closed for inspection for a few days every year to assure its safety. So far, it's held up in four major floods, and one would surmise that with that kind of record, it'll be around for a long time.

Back to the toll taking, I wonder what do they do overnight? Is there an evening toll collector? What kind of traffic does he or she see? And how do they manage in foul weather?

According to the company website, those traveling to church or funerals don't have to pay the toll, but I do wonder, though, if the Dingmans Choice and Delaware Bridge Company people will eventually succumb to EZPass. Perhaps the toll taker will stand in his usual spot and hold a transponder reader to essentially bar-scan people across the bridge.

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