MnDOT testing new technology to crack down on MnPASS violators |

MnDOT testing new technology to crack down on MnPASS violators

Updated: October 04, 2019 10:14 PM

In the northbound lanes of Interstate 35W near Highway 13, small blue and amber lights flash above the MnPASS lane.

The lights are part of a new system being piloted by the transportation authority to help law enforcement track down and ticket people who are not abiding by the rules of the designated rush hour lanes.

Lieutenant Paul Stricker, with the Minnesota State Patrol, oversees seven dedicated officers who are responsible for patrolling the duel HOV and toll lanes across the metro.

"It's a very large problem," Stricker said of people who are using the lanes without a passenger and without paying the toll. "We're at almost 4,000 violations this year. I think last year we had just shy of 3,000 for the entire year."

The beacons, installed in three locations along the Interstate 35 corridor, alert troopers to whether or not a car has a valid MnPASS tag. A blue light means the car is complying and is paying the toll, while an amber light means the beacon could not detect the presence of a tag.

Stricker said if the light flashes amber, a trooper can follow the car to confirm if there is a passenger inside.

"As long as they have a passenger, the lane is free," he said. "If they are in their car alone with no transponder, that's a violation."

Stricker said for years, people have tried to skirt the system, dressing up skeletons in human clothing or strapping plastic dolls into car seats to give the appearance of another passenger.

But as the rate of violations climb, MnDOT wanted to turn to technology to help bolster enforcement.

"Hopefully it's a deterrent," Stricker said.

State Patrol hopes more beacons can be installed along other MnPASS lanes over the next year.

For more information on MnPASS lanes, click here.

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Kirsten Swanson

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