New law sets stage for gateless Ohio Turnpike tolling

February 7, 2022

Keith Goble


A new law in Ohio removes a stumbling block toward the implementation of open road tolling on the Ohio Turnpike.

In place since 2009, the Ohio Turnpike Commission says the current system of toll collection via a gated system is at “the end of its useful life.” The commission is working to launch open road tolling by spring 2023.

Open road tolling is described as using aspects of both all electronic tolling and gated systems.

Governor inks bill

Gov. Mike DeWine has signed into law a bill that is described as providing the authority needed for the Turnpike to operate open road tolling on the 241-mile east-to-west toll road.

Previously SB162, the new law allows the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission to collect tolls from non-E-ZPass customers passing through open road tolling lanes without paying. Customers without E-ZPass will have the option to take a ticket and pay using cash or a credit card.

Additionally, the commission is allowed to work with the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles to require vehicle owners to pay any delinquent tolls. Payment for delinquent tolls would be required to register affected vehicles.

House lawmakers voted 95-1 in December to advance the bill. The Senate followed suit with unanimous consent of a House change. Passage at the statehouse cleared the way for SB162 to head to the governor.

Cost savings touted for switch

Commission Executive Director Ferzan Ahmed estimates a savings of about $257 million in operating costs over 30 years once open road tolling is implemented. The commission cites a reduction in the number of toll plazas from 31 to 24, the addition of automatic toll collection machines at 10 toll plazas, the elimination of toll gates on entry and a projected increase in E-ZPass usage for the savings.

“This moves Ohio ahead in terms of being an easy-to-access state,” Sen. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, previously testified. Reineke is the Ohio Senate representative on the commission.

The Ohio Trucking Association testified at the statehouse in support of the move to open road tolling.

“Time is money in our business. We often say if the wheels aren’t turning you aren’t making money,” Ohio Trucking Association President Thomas Balzer previously testified. “Any delays or slowdowns in traffic flows impact our business negatively.” LL

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