Columbia River Crossing: No Toll Plaza?

A January 24th article in the Columbian hints at an unusual possibility for collecting tolls on a new bridge:

No tollbooths would be built. Instead, electronic transponders in each car would collect tolls. One-time users – tourists, for example – would be notified of the impending toll through signs on I-5 approaching the bridge and could buy toll cards at stores along the way.

In an earlier discussion here on PortlandTransport, commenter “lurker b” duly noted that the preliminary maps showing large and complex interchanges do not seem to include room for a toll plaza.

I’ve run this idea informally past a few friends, and the response curve was a bit narrow, ranging from shock and dismay on the mild end, to outrage on the intense end. But then that may just be reflective of my friends.

Speaking personally as someone who crosses the Columbia less than one day a month on average, I would not be likely to buy a permanent transponder. I would be quite happy to divert to a wayside toll booth and hand over some cash or swipe a credit card, but being forced to leave the freeway entirely, park, purchase a single-use pass at a store, get back on the freeway, etc. (or remember to stock up in advance) seems like an unprecedented break from tolling practice elsewhere.

Has this been tried in any metro area (especially in any region with a minimal set of facilities which are tolled)? What has been the public response in such scenarios?

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