Ah yes, New Jersey's lovely toll roads. Something that'll be a mainstay in the state for pretty much forever.

The Garden State Parkway, in particular, used to be known for its coin baskets. In fact, those coin baskets were the modern-day EZ-Pass of its time before EZ-Pass came into the picture.

Enforcement of tolls was also different. Today, the toll plazas along the Garden State Parkway use cameras to catch toll cheats, making it harder to get away without paying.

But back then, toll plazas didn't have that. At least, not to the extent they have them today.

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Instead, there was a red-green traffic light at the back of the toll lane that would flip to green once the toll was paid. And, located on top of those red-green lights was a separate alarm light that would go off if someone didn't pay.

On top of that, a bell would also ring alerting drivers that they violated not throwing the proper payment into the coin basket. But without photo enforcement, some drivers were sneaky with how they "paid" to get through.

It's not so much that the objects themselves are illegal, but rather, how the forms of payment were illegal. If it's not a form of legal tender, then it's not allowed to be used.

Here's a look at what some of you got away with chucking into those baskets. And don't forget to share your interesting coin basket stories in the comments.

GSP coin basket / apple core
New Jersey Turnpike Authority / Canva

Apple Core

As the old saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Perhaps the same can be said for highway tolls.

Because nothing speaks fortune than rotten and discarded parts of the fruit. But yet, that's what some of you did back in the day.

A rotten apple core is found in the coin basket. Hey, just chuck it in, beep the horn, and keep driving.

You threw something in, right?

GSP coin basket / kitty litter
Canva / New Jersey Turnpike Authority

Kitty Litter

This one seems like it takes too much effort. First off, it's not something quick you can throw in while driving by.

I almost picture someone parking it there, opening one end of the kitty litter bag, and just pouring it in. It seriously makes no sense.

Remember, people did these things before toll plazas were photo-enforced. You couldn't get away with these shenanigans now.

GSP coin basket / Pennies
Canva / New Jersey Turnpike Authority

Tons of Pennies / Coins

Ah yes, the backlog of coins. Sometimes those baskets jammed and completely filled with coins.

One listener said they found a basket like that and decided to punch it. That loosened whatever blocked the coins and they all began to count, thus flipping the light to green.

Another New Jersey listener said they got mad when the toll hiked to 50 cents, so they decided to get 50 pennies and pay like that. Yes, they ask you not to use pennies, but at least that's legal tender.

Oh, and the listener also said they sat there and let cars beep at them until it finished counting and turned green. Savage.

GSP coin basket / Aluminum cans
Canva / New Jersey Turnpike Authority

Beer Cans

Because empty beer cans in a car while driving on the Garden State Parkway perfectly sound legal.

But by the off-chance, you get pulled over for illegally drinking and driving, you need to get rid of the evidence. So why not throw them out in the coin baskets?

Again, plazas are photo-enforced now so you will be caught. Also, does it really need to be said to not drink and drive? Don't do it.

GSP coin basket / T-Shirt
Canva / New Jersey Turnpike Authority

T-Shirts / Clothing

Have you ever received a promotional t-shirt and decided you didn't want it? What an easy way to discard it. I mean, it's gotta be worth something.

Maybe whoever did this thought the value of the shirt would more than cover the cost of the toll. Makes perfect sense.

Maybe, though, a donation bin would be wiser next time. Unfortunately, those coin baskets don't have a slot for clothes.

GSP coin basket / Bumper Sticker
Canva / New Jersey Turnpike Authority

Bumper Stickers / Written Messages

Probably one of the most common things to see. It's hard to even imagine a toll basket without some sort of bumper sticker on it.

Not just that, but also written messages. One listener said they remembered someone writing, in big bold letters, The Ramones, after a show in Asbury Park.

Hey, at least this one gives the baskets more of a personal touch. As long as those drivers paid the toll, was there technically a violation?

The crazy things found in and on coin baskets on the Garden State Parkway. Never a dull moment in New Jersey.


A look back at the NJ Garden State Parkway token

A nostalgic token of NJ history dating back to the 1980's.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant


These are the most and least expensive toll roads in the U.S.

According to data compiled by Uproad, these are the highways across the country that charge the most and least to drive as of 2023.

Gallery Credit: Mike Brant

The above post reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 Sunday morning host Mike Brant. Any opinions expressed are his own.

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