Plan to lure truckers to Ohio Turnpike still in works

| 10/4/2004

Truck drivers will have to wait a little longer to see what the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Turnpike Commission have up their sleeves to attract them back to the toll way.

Gov. Bob Taft had said he hoped to see the plans on his desk by Sept. 30, but that did not happen.

Lauren Dehrmann, a turnpike spokeswoman, said department officials are still in the process of finalizing some of the financial details in the plan, which could include a reduction in tolls or a fuel rebate for truckers.

The Turnpike Commission is scheduled to meet Oct. 18, when additional action is anticipated. Dehrmann said the joint ODOT-Turnpike report and recommendations should be finished in time for the commission to consider during that meeting.

The governor requested the plan during a tour of northern Ohio communities in August where complaints about truck traffic have been on the rise in the past five years.

The “end of the month” deadline that the governor issued at the time was not considered a firm date from the beginning, Dehrmann said. And with the governor out of the country since Sept. 24 and not expected back until this week, the report’s presence on his desk before then might not have been particularly important anyway.

Work is continuing on the plan, Dehrmann said. “But we do anticipate something being finalized soon.”

On Sept. 8, the Ohio Turnpike increased the speed limit for large trucks on the 240-mile toll road from 55 mph to 65 mph, the same speed as all other vehicles, in hopes of steering truckers off overloaded two-lane roads and back onto the toll road.

Truck traffic began spilling over to smaller roads after an 82 percent toll increase took effect in 1999.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor