Toll payments in Alaska work differently from how it is in other states. While other states have various means of paying the toll charges across toll booths, Alaska resorts to a single method. It’s like a double-edged sword. On the one hand, Alaska is yet to follow the trend in toll payments across the U.S., which involves adopting digital technology. While on the flip side, Alaska’s toll payment method ensures that there are no missed tolls or violations on toll payments. Read on to be more familiar with the toll payment system in culture.
Of course, there are toll booths that serve as points of toll payments in the state. However, unlike other states with multiple toll roads and bridges, there’s only one toll tunnel. Every other road or bridge is toll-free. So you only have to pay tolls in Alaska if you’re going through this toll tunnel.
This toll tunnel is also called Whittier Tunnel. You’ll have to pass through this tunnel if you’re driving from Anchorage to Whittier. This tunnel is well-known for being the longest highway tunnel in North America and covers a distance of 4 kilometers. This tunnel is also the first tunnel designed for extremely low temperatures. We’re talking about sub-zero temperatures (-40 Fahrenheit). This tunnel was also built to withstand extreme velocity, such as winds moving at over 240 km/h.
This single-lane tunnel is used simultaneously by trains and cars moving in either direction. The tunnel is usually aired out via jet turbine ventilation in between trips, which is another unique feature of this tunnel. It’s designed to allow a single lane of traffic to move directly over the railroad track. A beautiful scenery surrounds the tunnel, and drivers stop to soak in sight.
The Alaska Department of Transportation prepared a Summer (1st May – 30th September) and Winter (1st October – 30th April) schedule for traffic organization.
For the Summer schedule:
- Cars going to Whittier pass through the tunnel from 5:30 am to 10:30 pm
- Cars coming from Whittier drive through the tunnel from 6 am to 11 pm
For the Winter Schedule:
- Cars going to Whittier can drive through the tunnel from 7:30 am to 8:30 pm on Mondays to Fridays and from 7:30 am to 10:30 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
- Cars coming from Whittier can pass through the tunnel from 7 am to 8 pm on Mondays to Fridays and from 7 am to 10 pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
It may seem good news to hear that there’s only one toll road in Alaska, but the toll rate is expensive. A one-way trip for a vehicle with a 2-axle profile will incur a toll rate of $13. If you’re driving a vehicle with a higher axle profile, you’ll pay more for toll fees. The rate is also determined by the vehicle’s weight, which is still directly related to the axle profile. A 2-axle vehicle is categorized as B1, while a 3-axle vehicle is categorized as B2. Vehicles with axle profiles ranging from 4-6 are categorized as D.
The toll booth in the Anderton Anderson Memorial Tunnel accepts payment in cash only (American dollars). As a motorist, you have a couple of options – pay for a one-way trip or get a booklet to get discounts on future trips. Unfortunately, you cannot make payments using electronic methods such as E-Z Pass, video payment system, toll-by-plate, or credit cards because the state doesn’t have a digital toll payment system.
The major advantage of Alaska’s toll payment system over other states is that there are no cases of missed tolls or payment violations. This is because every motorist is required to pay in cash before driving through.
Alaska is quite the experience when it comes to toll payments. It’s probably the only state in the country that doesn’t have an electronic toll payment method. We can’t say that the state intends to do it or not, but it has certainly worked for them, seeing that there are no incidents of missed toll payments. Also, motorists have two choices with the cash payment – pay for a single trip or buy a booklet and pay less when passing through the tunnel on subsequent occasions.