Machine Bows to Man at New, West Gardiner Turnpike Stop
December 03, 2008 -
WEST GARDINER -- The recently unveiled service plaza in West Gardiner, located just off Exit 102 on the Maine Turnpike, has plenty to entice drivers to stop.
But its location might make drivers wary of stopping. Turnpike travelers have to exit the highway, passing through a toll plaza, before resuming their trip -- a toll they would not have had to pay if they had never gotten off.
The Turnpike Authority decided to provide vouchers to travelers stopping at the new plaza that would waive the re-entry toll, in essence making it free to pee.
Signs reminding drivers to pick up the vouchers are displayed outside and inside the facility. The vouchers are unnecessary for EZ-Pass drivers.
Paradee said a kiosk to dispense the vouchers was to arrive just days before the plaza opened this month.
It never arrived.
"It was on the way here in a tractor trailer and got caught in an accident and burned in a fire," he said. "So, since then, we have actually been staffing that facility. It's probably a loss in revenue to have people there."
Sheila Baucom was the MTA worker staffing the voucher table on Friday afternoon.
She said the MTA had to ask toll operators to sign up for shifts in the service plaza after the kiosk went up in flames.
"Iíve seen no negative reaction from people," Baucom said. "I think people like having a real person here instead of a machine."
Baucom asks drivers seeking toll waivers where they are coming from and where they are headed to, before signing and handing over each voucher.
"If they are coming up (Interstate) 295 north, they get no voucher," she said. "This voucher is only good for people getting off at Exit 102 and getting back on the turnpike at (Exit) 103."
Colleen DeCastro, of Massachusetts, said she had no problem getting her voucher on Friday.
"Is this how it's going to be from now on?" she asked Baucom.
"Until the machines come in," Baucom replied.
The MTA workers keep records of how many vouchers they hand out each shift, and Baucom estimated about 150 get handed out per day.
Kennebec Journal, 11/29/2008
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