Efforts to freeze Ohio Turnpike tolls fail

Oct. 20, 2011
Despite efforts by the Ohio Trucking Assn. and others to freeze tolls on the Ohio Turnpike, toll hikes of about 10% will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012 as planned

Despite efforts by the Ohio Trucking Assn. and others to freeze tolls on the Ohio Turnpike, toll hikes of about 10% will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2012 as planned.

The trucking association said it is “adamantly opposed” to the hike that will hit truckers hardest, according to a report in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Trucks typically generate 60% of the toll road’s revenue while responsible for only 22% of the highway’s traffic.

The 241-mi. toll road connects the Midwest and the East Coast. Cross-state rates for truckers using E-ZPass — specifically, trucks with six axles that are more than 7 ft., 6 in. high — will rise to $50, from $45. Tolls for drivers who don’t have E-ZPass remain higher. It’s an incentive for drivers to switch to E-ZPass, an electronic-tolling system that allows traffic to move more quickly through interchanges and lessens the need for toll takers.

The Ohio Trucking Assn. supported a move to postpone any toll hikes for a year.

“They certainly don’t need an increase right now,” president Larry Davis told the Plain Dealer.

Davis warned that many truckers will steer clear of the turnpike rather than pay higher rates. The turnpike estimates a 2% loss of truck traffic. But that “should dissipate over one to two years,” a turnpike official told the Plain Dealer.

However, Jerry Hruby, the commission’s newest member and chairman, said last week a proposal to postpone the hikes dead.

“There’s no support there on the board,” he said, adding that the increase “is necessary, it’s planned and it’s part of the budget.”

Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Dept. of Transportation have criticized the turnpike for an inflated payroll and costly operations and have proposed leasing out its operations. A lease would result in a more efficient operation that could potentially yield several billion dollars for transportation projects in Ohio, according to Kasich.

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