Today’s the last chance for motorists to cash in their Garden State Parkway tokens.

Today’s Asbury Park Press reports that token holders have brought 180,000 tokens into the New Jersey Turnpike Authority offices in Woodbridge to redeem them, at 33 cents apiece, since the program began. They’ve come in rolls, baggies, envelopes and even a little purple basket, according to reporter Larry Higgs.

By today’s deadline of 1:30p, another 20,000 tokens are expected to be cashed in.

That number pales by estimates of several million tokens still in circulation — tokens [authority spokesman Joe] Orlando figures probably went to the junkyard in the ashtrays and between the seats of cars traveling on that highway in the sky.

“The vast majority of tokens are never to be seen again,” he said.

The thousands of Parkway tokens collected will be sold for scrap metal and melted down, Orlando said. Money from an earlier token collection financed the current reimbursement, he said. Sale of tokens stopped in 2002.

The largest haul of tokens was brought in by a father and son, who turned in about 5,300 tokens and got about $1,700 for them.

“The best purpose I could think of for having 5,300 tokens is if they had a rear-wheel drive car and had them in the trunk (for traction in snow),” Orlando said.

Robert Myer of Roselle brought in 500 tokens Tuesday, still in their wrappers, neatly stacked in a box. Myer said he had hundreds of tokens because he used to own a bus company.

Frank Della Pietro of the Fords section of Woodbridge said his wife read about the end of tokens in the newspaper and sent him to the authority, where he got $65.33.

Donna DeMagistris of the Towaco section of Montville made the trip to turn in about 120 tokens which got her about $40.

“I’ll put it toward Christmas bills and champagne for New Year’s Eve,” she said. “I’ll say “Thank you, Garden State Parkway tokens,’ and toast 2009 and the Parkway.”

But she didn’t get rid of all of them.

“I kept some out to go home and one for my mom,” DeMagistris said.

If you really want to own a token collection, an eBay seller is auctioning off 21 Parkway tokens. At one point Tuesday, the highest bid was $1.33.

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