10 Craziest Toll Booth Incidents

10 Crazy Toll Booth Incidents

1. Firetruck Being Driven To Canada Catches Fire at Toll Booth

In April 2017, in what has to be a bit of an international embarrassment, an old U.S. fire truck from Kansas City that was being delivered to a Canadian fire department, became engulfed in flames as it stood at the border toll. No one was hurt, and no one seemed to know what caused the fire to erupt, or at least the reason wasn't made public.

2. A Teen Stripper on a Rampage Tried To Pass Fake Bills At A Toll Booth

In June 2016, a Naugatuck, Connecticut woman tried to pass counterfeit $10 bills to a toll clerk at the George Washington Bridge in New York. When the driver, 19-year-old Willow Martin, was confronted by police, she claimed to have no license or other identification. During a search of her car, officers found 31 envelopes of heroin, 16 fake $10 bills, drug paraphernalia, and a butcher's cleaver. While in custody, Willow, who works as a stripper, was charged in an arson case where she is accused of setting fire to a business owned by a fellow dancer's father. Apparently, DNA that was found on a potato left in the tailpipe of his van led the police to the rampaging teen. Martin now faces a long list of arson, burglary, drug, and conspiracy charges.

3. Camel blocks traffic after owner refuses to pay toll

Toll booths are often the scene of arguments between collectors and customers over fees. In Chongqing, China, one frustrated man decided enough was enough and abandoned the camel he was transporting at a toll booth, blocking traffic and angering drivers. The dispute was over Chinese toll laws that provide free passage for vehicles carrying certain livestock—such as pigs and horses—but doesn't address hauling camels. Police were summoned, and the camel's owner was forced move his animal and pay a $30 fine.

4. The opera singer who fell in love with 'desperately cute' toll booth operator as she drove to work

It could almost be the love story from one of the opera's Sonya Baker performs in New York. But for one soprano the unlikely location of Exit 19 on the New York State thruway in Kingston was where she found true love. Sonya Baker was driving to perform in Carnegie Hall, Manhattan, when she passed through the toll booth of Michael Fazio. She thought he was 'desperately cute' and would exchange words every time she handed him the 37c fare to go through the toll for three months.

They would ask each other 'how's your day?' or 'where are you going?' during the seconds they had to converse. Over the months, they learned more about each other, including Ms Baker's love of operas including Puccini and Verdi and Mr Fazio's devotion to the New York Yankees. But their fledgling romance hit the brakes shortly afterwards as Mr Fazio changed to working midnight shifts and the pair no longer saw each other through a toll booth window.

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5. Shep, 'the turnpike dog,' remembered

If you're heading to Denver and are stuck in traffic on U.S. 36 just east of the Wadsworth Boulevard overpass at Broomfield, look to your right and think of Shep, "the turnpike dog." That's where the highway's mascot used to romp and play. The small fenced-in area on a triangle of grass contains his gravestone and a marker--tributes to his final resting place.

For 14 years, the dog belonged to no one and to everyone, and the two toll booths--then under Wadsworth Boulevard--were his home.

When the brand-new highway opened in 1952 as the Denver-Boulder Turnpike, 15-and 25-cent tolls were collected to pay for the highway's construction. Uniformed attendants came and went, but the mixed-breed black and white dog settled down to stay.

No one knew who originally owned the dog or where he was born. Rumors stated that a farmer lost one of a litter of puppies in the early 1950s when the highway and the tollbooths were under construction. Old-timers also claim that the dog wandered onto the job site where workers fed him sandwich scraps from their lunches.

At first, Shep was timid. When a graveyard-shift attendant finally coaxed him into his toll booth for a warm night's sleep, the attendant got, in return, welcome companionship on his lonely job. As each shift began, Shep ran out to greet his new-found friends. Sometimes the independent pup would wander off, but he always returned.

Even the motorists looked forward to seeing him when they paid their tolls. Many of the drivers paid a little extra and donated their change for Shep's food. Others brought him bones and toys. Annual vacationers looked forward to seeing him from year to year and often pulled over to take his photograph.

Life was good for the "turnpike dog" except for one time in 1958 when he limped back to the toll booths with shotgun wounds. Dr. Clyde Brunner, a Broomfield veterinarian, treated Shep for free.

After many years of living with the attendants and winning their hearts, Shep gradually became blind and deaf and was barely able to move. Finally, on Aug. 3, 1964, his caretakers made the difficult decision to put him to sleep. Paul Kempf, the highway superintendent at the time, dug the grave for the well-loved pet on the highway's right-of-way.

Boulder's Green Mountain Cemetery donated a marble headstone, complete with Shep's photo and the inscription, "Shep, 1950-1964, Part shepherd-- Mostly affection." The other marker simply reads, "Our Pal."

The turnpike was paid off in 1967, 13 years earlier than originally expected. The former toll road became a free highway, and the toll booths were torn down. In 1971, when the Broomfield interchange was re-configured from a cloverleaf to a diamond design, the highway department was careful to leave Shep's grave undisturbed.

After Shep died, there was talk of getting another toll-road dog. One of the attendants, however, later insisted, "But nobody could take Shep's place... never."

6. Man Arrested for Half-Naked Turnpike Exposure

A Topeka man could face charges after exposing himself to a toll booth worker along the Kansas Turnpike. Master Trooper Mark Christeson tells Topeka’s Fox affiliate that, starting in January, he would exchange lewd pictures with his wife while driving — then leave them in plain sight for the Lawrence toll booth operator to see.  On Monday, he exposed himself to the worker when he stopped to pay the toll.

The worker told the Kansas Highway Patrol, and they set up a plan to catch him on his next visit through the toll booth.  He was arrested for indecent exposure and drug possession, although formal charges have not been filed.

7. Toll Hike Protesters Burn Booth

Protesters furious over a near-tripling of tolls on a stretch of Greece’s northern national road set fire to one of the collection booths in complaints they were being gouged while the money wasn’t being used to maintain the highway. A group of about 50o people collected at the toll booths in Malakasa to demonstrate their anger that the toll had been raised from 55 euro cents to 1.45 euros, (75 cents-$1.97) each way, and as the government has reinstated two-way tolls in other sections of the national highway, which is decrepit and dangerous in many places.

The anti-austerity protesters blocked the motorway, set fire to tires and chanted slogans against the government before dispersing hours later, the news agency Agence France Press reported. It wasn’t reported if they were part of a “We Won’t Pay” movement that sprung up after Greece began imposing pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions on the orders of international lenders. Transport Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis said the toll increases were part of the contract signed with the motorway operators in 2007. “Whoever obstructs passage through the tolls is acting to the detriment of the Greek people,” he said.

He said that everyday commuters using the tollway at the center of the protest would pay the previous lower fare. According to a document Chrysochoidis presented to Parliament, Greece has raised 1.3 billion euros in toll revenue since 2008. He said average tolls were among the lowest in Europe.

8. A teen's gruesome car crash photos sparked a controversy

18-year-old Nikki Catsouras was the daughter of a wealthy Greek family who, after arguing with her parents, took off in their Porsche sports car. Fueled by cocaine, she crashed into a toll booth in Lake Forest, California and was killed instantly. The photos from the terrible accident were leaked, showing her split head, and bloodied remains. They were so graphic that, after it was discovered they were leaked by a pair of police officials, the family filed a lawsuit. A long legal battle ensued, with the family finally receiving $2.37 million in a settlement in 2012, six years after the crash.

9. 'Retired state police trooper shoots dead two toll booth workers' in armed robbery before being killed in gun fight with police

A retired state police trooper shot dead two Pennsylvania Turnpike employees near a toll booth, before being killed in a gun fight with police. Clarence Briggs, of Newville, Pennsylavnia, 55, is accused of opening fire on a toll booth worker on the Fort Littleton Interchange in Fulton County, during an attempted robbery Sunday morning. The incident unfolded just before 7am when Briggs confronted two employees working at a toll booth at the Fort Littleton interchange and forced them into a nearby office building, police told DailyMail in a statement.

10. Trapped in Tollbooths, and Targets of Harassment

Trapped in Tollbooths, and Targets of HarassmentIn the four years that Ayanna Chisholm has worked collecting tolls out of tiny glass booths at the Holland Tunnel and elsewhere in New Jersey, there have been several constants. There are familiar commuters, malfunctioning toll arms, occasional scofflaws — and an incessant barrage of come-ons, sexual comments, lecherous stares and crude gestures from male motorists. Some of Ms. Chisholm’s colleagues say they have been subjected to drivers’ exposing themselves. The fusillade is especially menacing because it is inescapable, the workers confined to small hutches on the highway.

Like other women in her profession, Ms. Chisholm, who works for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has learned to wear little makeup, crack her booth’s window open as little as possible, and drop change into waiting hands to avoid drivers who try to stroke her palm.

“They know I can’t physically go after them,” said Ms. Chisholm, 26, who is also a student at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “This is work, and I deal with it outside of work when I’m walking in the street. To come to work and still have to deal with that, it’s troublesome.”

“I feel degraded,” she added.

Staffed tollbooths have dwindled with the advent of cashless tolls. Of the collectors who remain in the New York area, many are women, including a growing number of part-time workers drawn by the job’s flexible schedules. What has not changed, according to interviews with more than 20 current toll takers, conversations with former toll collectors and union representatives, and comments posted on online message boards and social media, is the hum of harassment that underpins a workday on the road.

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