"pennies and sticky change will result in ... three points on your license."
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    Dec 2003
    Western Schuylkill County, Pa.
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    "pennies and sticky change will result in ... three points on your license."

    It was hard enough for those of us who don't carry much cash to get over the bridges into Cape Coral when it only cost $1.

    Imagine how the cash-challenged are with the new $2 one-way toll.

    Take Courtney Wright of Cape Coral, for instance, who was trying to get home one recent evening only to discover she was out of money.

    "Poor planning, I know, but who hasn't been there?" Wright wrote in her e-mail.

    Who hasn't indeed.

    So Wright did what any woman who carries a handbag does. She dove to the bottom and scrounged around eventually finding one dollar bill, three quarters, two nickels, a dime and five pennies.

    For most of us, that equals $2.

    But using Cape Coral bridge collector math, Wright was five cents short. Wright was told the new LeeWay policy was not to accept pennies and, furthermore, her change was "sticky."

    "From now on," Wright repeated what she said the toll collector told her, "pennies and sticky change would result in ... three points on my license."

    Wright's missive on the topic continued: "First, unless I missed a memo, pennies are minted by our national government ... I understand that a large number of pennies would slow down the line at the toll booth but, even if I was behind the person paying in 200 pennies, I would have to say that it is legal."

    Wright also railed against "stickiness," which, she said, is open to interpretation.

    I found it hard to believe that LeeWay, the agency that collects tolls, was rejecting pennies and dirty money. So I called LeeWay manager Susan Hopwood to see if she could shed some light on this situation.

    When I told her the story about the collector not wanting to accept Wright's change, she immediately asked: "Was it sticky?"

    Now how did she know that? Have sticky pennies been a problem lately?

    In fact, they have, Hopwood said, jamming up machines and forcing collectors to touch coins they'd rather not. "Pennies are OK, but we discourage them because it takes longer to count them," Hopwood said. "But a sticky coin is different.

    "You don't know where a coin has been," Hopwood said of the money handed over to collectors. "Sometimes motorists take it out of their mouths and we ask them to clean it."

    I'm not the squeamish type but the thought of this has me reaching for hand sanitizer. I really didn't want to go there, but this begged for an explanation

    "When the toll was 50 cents rather than have the money in a pocket motorcyclists would put two quarters in their mouths and then hand it to the collector. That's happened more than once," Hopwood said.

    So here's how to avoid sticky money and spit-soaked quarters: Use a transponder and pre-pay your tolls. If conspiracy theorists are right, this is what LeeWay wants us to do anyway. Trying to coerce cash payers into compliance by closing exact change lanes and making "no sticky change" rules.

    And if all else fails, take the Caloosahatchee Bridge. No change - sticky or otherwise - required.




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