Toll Calculator for Road Trips

On a recent road trip from Michigan to the East Coast, it would have been nice to know exactly how much my highway tolls would cost. We were traversing two turnpike systems, each with its own brand of indecipherable ticket cards.

Do we have enough cash for the next toll?

Let’s see. Where did we get on again? Was it Maumee, or was it Perrysburg? Hold on—it says sometimes there’s a flat fee, and other times it’s based on how far you drive.

Forget it, we’ll just get a bunch of cash at the next service plaza.

And I had the help of my loving wife and navigator. Good luck if you’re driving alone!

It’s 2015; It should be easier to discover this kind of information.

The Project

Build something that can tell me what my tolls will be for a given route within the continental United States. Ideally, this app would be web-based and mobile-friendly. Right at my fingertips, just one Google search away.

The Tricky Bit

Getting accurate fare data across multiple toll/turnpike networks is, of course, the real challenge here. And keeping it up-to-date. So your backend is probably going to be a fun. Nothing insurmountable, though—web scraping is a thing.

The Competition

Researching this post, I discovered there is a mobile app for iOS and Android (Tollsmart) that seems cool. But is this really the kind of thing I want to install a dedicated app for? If drove that frequently, I would have an electronic toll pass and be done with it.

Plus, I’m sure you can build a better one.

Bonus Points

Waiting in long lines at multiple toll booths, I watched with envy as drivers with electronic passes cruised through, barely slowing down. Then I noticed that the posted penalties for non-payment were a lot lower than I expected. Hmmm.

Could your web app present me with the time/cost tradeoff of blowing through without paying? I know a few people who would pay extra to avoid waiting in traffic for 15 minutes.