Drivers have the option of using E-ZPass to pay their tolls. By Donald WittkowskiToll collector Arthur Sparks nodded at the motorist who pulled up to pay his fare Monday afternoon on the Ocean City-Longport Bridge and told him, “How are you doing there, buddy? We now have E-ZPass.”Sparks’ greeting was simple, but the meaning behind his words was monumental. After decades of having to pay their fares the old-fashioned way, motorists now have the option of using the automated E-ZPass system when crossing over the toll bridge into Ocean City.For them, that means no more fumbling for cash or coins to pay the toll. The slow and cumbersome process inevitably backs up traffic on the bridge, especially during the busy summer tourism season.Culminating a nearly two-year effort, the Cape May County Bridge Commission is installing the E-ZPass system on the five seashore bridges it operates along the scenic Ocean Drive coastal route.The bridge commission originally planned a toll hike coinciding with the arrival of E-ZPass, but later backed off. The toll will remain $1.50.The Ocean City-Longport Bridge was the first to get E-ZPass on Monday. The Middle Thorofare Bridge will be next on or about May 7, followed by the Grassy Sound Bridge on or about May 14 and the Corsons Inlet Bridge on or about May 21.The Townsends Inlet Bridge connecting Sea Isle City with Avalon was supposed to go live with E-ZPass by June 25, but it now appears the date will be pushed up to Memorial Day weekend, if not sooner.“I’m expecting to have all of the bridges on E-ZPass before the Memorial Day weekend,” said Karen Coughlin, the bridge commission’s executive director.A new “E-ZPass Accepted” sign lets drivers know the automated toll system is now in use.Although E-ZPass will be available on all of the bridges, cash and discount tickets will still be accepted as well. Even those vehicles with E-ZPass transponders will have the option to make payments with bridge tickets versus E-ZPass transactions, Coughlin said.The discount tickets cost $1.20, compared to the regular toll of $1.50. Coughlin noted that the bridges will continue to accept tickets through the summer. After that, the bridge commission will be introducing an E-ZPass discount program to replace the tickets.E-ZPass revolutionizes the toll-collection system on the Cape May County Bridge Commission network. For decades, motorists have had to endure the same slow-motion ritual for paying their fares – come to a complete stop at the toll plaza and hand over their cash and coins to the collector.“Now, they won’t have to have cash in their hand. I think that’s got to be the biggest benefit,” Coughlin said of the convenience of E-ZPass.The E-ZPass system will make the bridges compatible with major toll roads serving the Jersey Shore. E-ZPass, which allows motorists to pay electronically while breezing through a toll plaza without having to stop, has been in use for years on the Garden State Parkway and the Atlantic City Expressway.Ocean City-Longport Bridge toll collector Arthur Sparks tells a motorist about E-ZPassWhile E-ZPass promises to speed up the flow of traffic somewhat on the bridges, Coughlin stressed that motorists won’t zip through the toll plazas in the same way as the Garden State Parkway and Atlantic City Expressway. They will still have to wait for the toll plaza’s gate-like “arm” to be raised to let them pass through.“People are not flying through,” Coughlin said. “It’s faster, but it’s not speeding. We made sure these people are stopping.”To alleviate fears of E-ZPass traffic zooming through the toll plaza at high speeds, gates were installed on the Ocean City-Longport Bridge to slow drivers down. Cape May County has also installed a pedestrian crosswalk near the bridge to improve safety.Perhaps the most noticeable change to motorists will be the signs approaching the toll plazas. Previously, drivers were greeted on the Ocean City-Longport Bridge by a sign that declared “No E-ZPass” in red letters. Now, the signs say “E-ZPass Accepted.”“They are very happy about it,” toll collector Arthur Sparks said. “They feel it’s going to speed things up a bit.”Coughlin noted that most of the calls she receives at the bridge commission’s office are from motorists who question or complain about the lack of E-ZPass. Those calls are now expected to stop.“The comments we’re getting are pretty nice. They’re saying, ‘Hooray, you have it here. It’s finally working,’” Coughlin said of the reactions Monday on the Ocean City-Longport Bridge.The Ocean City-Longport Bridge is the first Cape May County Bridge Commission span to get E-ZPass. Four other commission bridges will follow with E-ZPass by Memorial Day weekend.
“Flow of investment will not reach the most productive place, and transaction will not necessarily occur where the best service is provided.”Demarigny’s comments came in a report detailing 25 steps towards greater integration of capital markets.The report recommended that Solvency II capital requirements be re-drafted to favour greater exposure to illiquid asset classes directly impacting economic growth.He warned against the FTT resulting in the “artificial” fragmentation of capital markets.“Unless members states are able to create a financial transaction tax that would not delocalise investments and transactions, one can only echo the preference for a tax applicable in the 28 member states,” he said. The report was published by the Finance Ministry days after a number of industry associations warned that the FTT could hinder the CMU’s launch.The FTT is unlikely to be adopted by all member states in the near future, as the UK government has challenged the legitimacy of the enhanced cooperation procedure that has allowed the 11 member states to work on a joint proposal.The UK lost its court case but remains opposed to any tax.At the time, Sajid Javid, a junior Treasury minister when the challenge was mounted, argued that an FTT would be “detrimental to growth throughout Europe”.Javid was recently promoted to secretary of state in charge of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The French government has been advised that the proposed financial transaction tax (FTT) could distort competition across the European single market and risks undermining the launch of the capital markets union (CMU).In a report commissioned for the French Economy and Finance Ministry, Fabrice Demarigny, a partner at Mazars, warned that establishing the CMU required members to “carefully reconsider” some current initiatives, including the controversial tax backed by 11 member states, including France.Demarigny, a former secretary general of the Committee of European Securities Regulators (replaced by the European Securities and Markets Authority in 2011) told minister of finance Michel Sapin the attempt by the minority of member states to launch an FTT directly contradicted the goal of greater integration through the CMU.“It will significantly distort competition within the European financial system and disrupt proper allocation of capital,” he said.
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St George’s College avenged their ISSA Southern Conference Under-16 basketball final defeat to St Catherine High in the All-Island final at G.C. Foster on Tuesday, and one of the most critical performances of the day was that of tournament MVP, Jadeja McCormack.Jordon Gilles might have led the North Street school with 17 points followed by Samora Williams with 13 and Nathan Reid with 10 points. However, it was the overall contribution of McCormack that really made the difference.The point guard only bagged eight points, but his rebounds, steals and ability to control the tempo of the game made the young player an invaluable asset for the defending under-16 champions, and he credits the hard work that he puts in as the reason for his success this season.”We wake up five o’ clock to train and finish at 9 a.m. to 10 (a.m.). Then I would play some pick up ball with (Arnett Rockers) D 1 players. I will be the first one in at training most of the time, and I work hard in the gym, run, and do what I have to do. The hard work has paid off,” he told The Gleaner after helping his team defeat St Catherine.HAPPY FOR WIN”I am pleased and happy, too, because to work so hard and not come out with anything would have been disappointing, so I am glad we won and I won (MVP),” he added.He admitted he had his difficulties through this season and credit his team for helping him through the tough times.”Some games, I lost focus, but my teammates and coaches helped me pick up, and I thank them for that,” he said.”I take this (sport) very seriously, and sometimes, my mother would tell me to stop playing, she says that I will damage myself, but I love basketball. I don’t love anything more than it, other than my family. I dream of playing in the NBL, and I am working hard to make that dream come true. Next I would like play college ball or for a (US) Division One league until I can work my way to the top,” he said.St George’s coach Clifford Brown thought McCormack’s all round contribution was indispensable and vital to their success this season.”His performance was stellar. His ball control, his ability to manage the game, he manages a lot of steals and converts on free throws. He plays good defence, he heeds instruction and he followed the mandate given to him. He is the point guard and he is supposed to run the team, and that’s what he did,” Brown commented.- L.S.
Priscilla WolfAPTN NewsThe city of Saskatoon is considering opening the first safe injection site in the province.But not everyone approves with the proposed location – a residential area in the [email protected]@priscillawolfnews