Ohio Senate approves bill to aid gateless Turnpike tolling

July 27, 2021

Keith Goble

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One bill halfway through the Ohio statehouse would remove a stumbling block toward 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 adopt open road tolling by spring 2023.

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

The Senate voted unanimously to advance a bill described as providing the authority needed for the Turnpike to operate open road tolling on the 241-mile east-to-west toll road.

SB162 would allow the Ohio Turnpike Commission to work with the state’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles to require vehicle owners to pay any delinquent tolls from passing through open road tolling lanes. Payment for delinquent tolls would be required to register affected vehicles.

“The commission will need to mitigate toll revenue loss and SB162 is an excellent remedy to what would be a substantial loss of revenue without it,” reads testimony provided for the Senate Transportation Committee.

Commission Executive Director Ferzan Ahmed estimates a savings of about $257 million in operating costs over 30 years once implementing open road tolling. 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 use for the savings.

“This moves Ohio ahead in terms of being an easy-to-access state,” Sen. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, testified.

“As you roll through Pennsylvania or Pittsburgh, you can stop at some of the rest stops in some of these smaller counties in Ohio,” Reineke said. “These rest stops are huge sales-tax collectors for these areas.”

Reineke is the Ohio Senate representative on the commission.

The Ohio Trucking Association supports the move to open road tolling on the Ohio Turnpike.

“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 testified. “Any delays or slowdowns in traffic flows impact our business negatively.”

The bill now moves to the House for further consideration. LL

More Land Line coverage of news from Ohio is available.

 

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.