An Ohio state legislator has introduced a bill that would
allow the state to borrow $23.4 million to subsidize the Ohio Turnpike
Commission’s proposed temporary toll reduction for trucks.
Fuel tax revenue, typically reserved for highway work, would
go to repay the $23.4 million over the 10-year life of the bonds.
Proposed by Rep. Stephen Buehrer, R-Delta, the bill would
also streamline the public hearing process that usually precedes any toll
Gov. Bob Taft sought the reduction, along with an increase
in truck speed limits from 55 mph to 65 mph along the Ohio Turnpike, as part of
a plan to steer trucks off overloaded two-lane roads and back onto the toll
Since the speed increase took effect Sept. 8, Lauren
Dehrmann, a turnpike spokeswoman, said the turnpike has seen large truck
traffic increase by about 9 percent. The 18-month trial turnpike toll reduction
and its long-term economic feasibility would be re-evaluated during the trial
period, she said.
As proposed, the reductions will vary from about 2 percent
for Class 4 trucks to 57 percent for Class 9 trucks.
For Class 8 trucks, the toll to travel the length of the
241-mile route between Indiana and Pennsylvania will drop from $42.45 to $31 –
a 27 percent discount – to cross the state.
Buehrer’s proposal – HB582 – could ultimately be added to
Ohio’s capital budget, a wish list of school, highway, and other construction
projects that is to be voted on before the session ends late next month.
State law now requires at least three public hearings and a
public comment period of 90 days preceding toll changes.
The bill would reduce that to one public comment gathering
at least 30 days before a temporary decrease lasting 18 months or less would take
“We want to do this as quickly as possible,” commission
Chairman Tom Noe told The Toledo Blade. “It’s weird having to
hold hearings to decrease tolls. I can understand if it we’re increasing them.
If this passes in the lame-duck session, we should be able to hold a meeting in
That means the reduction could take effect as early as
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor