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Confusion, speeders mark revamped Golden Gate Bridge toll plaza

  • Morning commuters drive through without stopping at the Golden Gate Bridge toll booths on Tuesday March 27, 2013 in San Francisco. The bridge no longer has toll takers with an electronic system that took place at 12 a.m. Wednesday. (Conner Jay/Press Democrat)

SAN FRANCISCO -- Motorists greeted the first morning in nearly 76 years without human toll collectors on the Golden Gate Bridge on Wednesday by embracing the change -- or being confused by it.

Many motorists zipped through the toll plaza -- often at speeds well above the posted speed limit of 25 mph -- which in turn erased congestion on the iconic span.

But other motorists still stopped at the vacant toll plaza, including one man in a silver Lexus who got out of his vehicle searching for someone to give money to.

Revamped Golden Gate Bridge Toll Plaza

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"What a dodo," said a bridge worker, after she walked over to the toll lane where the man had stopped and told him to get going.

Nobody expected that the bridge's conversion to automatic tolls would go without a hitch. The Golden Gate Bridge is the first major span in the nation to make such a change, which is being closely watched around the Bay Area and the world as a possible example to follow.

Bridge officials were mostly pleased with the system's debut Wednesday.

"It's going really, really well," said Mary Currie, spokeswoman for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.

No major problems, such as crashes, were reported as of noon. That period covered the morning commute, in which an estimated 86 percent of motorists use FasTrak and thus already are accustomed to not stopping to pay their fares.

"These are the people we expected to be on their best behavior, and they are," said Kary Witt, a Windsor resident and manager of the bridge for the Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District.

By late morning, the confusion was more apparent.


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