MANDEVILLE - The signage is up, booth workers and computers are up-to-date and Stanley McDonald is the Causeway's newest toll tag customer.
"My daughter lives on the Northshore and I visit on weekends," he said.
When McDonald heard about the cash toll increasing this weekend, from $3 to $5, he opted to get a tag, which is only going up from $2 to $3.
McDonald isn't alone in the effort to save money. Bridge officials say a normal day will see 40-60 transactions that are usually on existing accounts. Wednesday, alone, saw 200 transactions, all brand new tag accounts.
While some of those new accounts are coming in online, many have been in-person at the North Toll plaza, so extra staffing is on hand.
"We're delighted," said Causeway Executive Director Carlton Dufrechou, "It's the right way to go. Gets you through the toll booth quicker, it's more affordable in the long run. Best way all around."
Anyone getting a toll tag, whether it's an additional one for an existing account or a brand new one, is going to pay $12.50. But you'll be getting them in a new decal sticker, which is going to go underneath your rearview mirror, because eventually, the hard tags are going to be phased out.
"It's where DOTD wants to go," said Dufrechou, "You can't use them right now in Florida or Texas, but hopefully over the next couple of years, if you have a Causeway tag, you can use it on a trip to East Coast, West Coast, anywhere else."
Though the increase has been contentious, along with the reason for it, to pay for a $103 million safety improvement project, bridge officials say a tag is the best way to minimize the hit the hike has on your wallet.
With each new tag purchase, drivers will have to place a $40 toll balance onto their account, but it doesn't expire and no minimum balance will have to be maintained after that. One free replacement decal is offered per vehicle, in case of emergencies like windshield replacements.