Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
alt. a road, for the use of which a toll must be paid; a turnpike n. a road, for the use of which a toll must be paid; a turnpike
A toll road, also known as a turnpike or tollway, is a public or private roadway for which a fee (or toll) is assessed for passage. It is a form of road pricing typically implemented to help recoup the cost of road construction and maintenance, which (on public roads) amounts to a form of taxation.
Toll roads in some form have existed since antiquity, collecting their fees from passing travelers on foot, wagon or horseback; but their prominence increased with the rise of the automobile, and many modern tollways charge fees for motor vehicles exclusively. The amount of the toll usually varies by vehicle type, weight, or number of axles, with freight trucks often charged higher rates than cars.
Tolls are collected at points known as toll booths, toll houses, plazas, stations, bars, or gates. Some toll collection points are unmanned and the user deposits money in a machine which opens the gate once the correct toll has been paid. To cut costs and minimize time delay many tolls today are collected by some form of automatic or electronic toll collection equipment which communicates electronically with a toll payer's transponder. Toll booths are usually still required for the occasional users who do not have a transponder. The tolls are often prepaid or collected "automatically" from an affiliated credit card service. Some toll roads have "automated" toll enforcement systems that take photos of drivers who do not pay the tolls and their license plates. They typically get the toll bill along with a fine.
Criticisms of toll roads include the time taken to stop and pay the toll, and the cost of the toll booth operators—up to about one third of revenue in some cases. Automated toll paying systems help minimize both of these. Others object to paying "twice" for the same road: in fuel taxes and with tolls.
In addition to toll roads, toll bridges and toll tunnels are also used by public authorities to generate funds to repay the cost of building the structures. Some tolls are set aside to pay for future maintenance or enhancement of infrastructure, or are applied as a general fund by local governments, not being earmarked for transport facilities. This is sometimes limited or prohibited by central government legislation. Also road congestion pricing schemes have been implemented in a limited number of urban areas as a transportation demand management tool to try to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution.