On a recent trip to the northeast part of the United States, it made me realize how lucky we are in Michigan not to have to worry about paying tolls to use our state's highways and interstates. (We do have to pay a toll to cross the Mackinac Bridge.)

It seems every state does things a little differently when it comes to collecting tolls on their roadways.

While driving through Illinois a month or so ago, they want you to pay your tolls online. There are no people working the toll booths anymore in most states. In Illinois, you either use EZPass or you pay online. Signs located along the roadway threaten that you need to pay your tolls "within two weeks", however the amount you owe won't be posted for for about a month on their website...usually about the time you forget to keep checking for them to appear.

Ohio is the only state that still does things the old fashioned way. You get a ticket when you get on the Ohio Turnpike and then pay an actual person when you exit. This was probably the easiest way to pay to use their roadway. You can also do EZPass, if you have one.

New York likes to make things a little more complicated. There you have to either have an EZPass or pay by mail. They have signs posted with a cell number for you to call to set up to pay by mail to avoid penalties. I'm still waiting for my tolls to show up.

I finally broke down and purchased and EZPass On-the-Go before continuing my travels. The state of New York has brochures at every rest stop explaining how to purchase and set one up. Unfortunately their website of locations to buy one of these devices could use some updating. The first place I went to had no clue what I was even talking about. The second location was out of business. The third business was closed at 9 pm. I finally was able to find one the next morning. It takes 24 hours to activate after entering all your information.

I was able to use the EZPass during the rest of my travels through Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Pennsylvania was a pretty smooth drive, but using their turnpike gets pretty costly to go across their state.

Don't even get me started on New Jersey. I have hated the road system in that state from the very first time I visited years ago. You can't get anywhere easily...and every route involves having to get on a turnpike somewhere. One toll cost me just over $5 to go to the first exit after getting on the turnpike!

Be advised that every state that has a turnpike or tollway and uses the EZPass system administers it differently. I picked up a few brochures from the different states along the way. Some charge a monthly fee, some don't. Some take 24 hours to activate, while some can take up to 48 hours. Some are $25 to purchase, others are $12 (the money is refunded by adding it to your account to pay tolls after activation).

I don't think I've ever been so happy to get back to Michigan and NOT see an EZPass lane while getting on the interstate.

Now I just get to wait for all the tolls to roll in and be paid. I'm guessing the total in tolls will be somewhere in the $60-$75 range to travel from Michigan to New Jersey and back.


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