Toll plazas were originally designed to provide a venue for vehicles to stop and pay a toll with some protection from precipitation. The specific venue was and still is guided by the facility’s toll operations concept, or toll system. This, in turn, is guided by the facility’s business rules and requirements that are established based on traffic characteristics, revenue requirements, maintenance considerations, and site opportunities and constraints.
Two general types of toll collection systems are in use today. One is the "closed entry-exit system", or “ticket system,” so named because motorists are issued tickets at the entry points, and they surrender those tickets on exit. The ticket identifies the length of the trip, which is used to determine the fare in conjunction with the vehicle classification. Ticket systems are generally “losed,” meaning no free movements are permitted on the system.
The second collection system is the “barrier system,” which collects a set toll at a specific location along a toll facility based only on vehicle classification. Barrier systems may be “open” or “closed;” closed barrier systems have adequate mainline and ramp toll plaza locations so no free movements are allowed anywhere on the toll facility. Open barrier systems allow some free movements between interchanges.
Once the specific type of toll collection is selected, plaza location is selected based on right of way availability, proximity to interchanges, stopping sight distance, ease of utility access, environmental impacts, and proximity to residential neighborhoods
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