Today in Automotive History
1954 Taking A Toll
The first automatic toll collection machine was placed in service at the Union Toll Plaza on New Jersey's Garden State Parkway on this day. In order to pass through the toll area, motorists dropped 25¢ into a wire mesh hopper and then a green light would flash permitting passage through the toll.
The automatic toll collection machine was an important innovation for America's modern toll highway, which first appeared in 1940 with the opening of the Pennsylvania Turnpike. For a three-hour reduction of travel time between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, the turnpike asked travelers to pay tolls, creating revenues that helped cover the roadway's high construction and maintenance costs. The Pennsylvania Turnpike was a tremendous success, leading to the construction of toll highways across the country, including the Garden State Parkway, which opened its first toll section in early 1954, and was completed in 1955.
However, a non-automotive toll road first appeared in the United States in 1795, when people traveling through the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Little River Turnpike found their way blocked by toll gates at Snicker's Gap, where they were asked to pay a toll.