Gov. Bob Taft signed legislation this week to decrease tolls
for large trucks on the Ohio Turnpike.
The new toll rates could take effect as early as Jan. 1.
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.
The lower tolls are a rollback of increases that took effect
in 1999, leading truck traffic to spill over to smaller roads.
The new law – previously HB406 – authorizes the Ohio
Department of Transportation to make a one-time payment of $23.4 million to the
Turnpike Commission to offset lost revenue that may result from the temporary
change, which is scheduled to last until summer 2006.
Commission members asked that a report be made at their
January 2006 meeting “on the traffic and revenue impact of the temporary toll
reductions in order that the commission may evaluate the effectiveness of the
Taft sought the reduction, along with an increase in truck
speed limits from 55 mph to 65 mph along the turnpike, as part of a plan to
steer trucks off overloaded two-lane roads and back onto the toll road.
Since the speed increase took effect Sept. 8, Lauren
Dehrmann, a turnpike spokeswoman, said the route has seen large truck traffic
increase by about 9 percent.
The new law also allows the commission to decrease toll
rates without holding a public hearing.
State law now requires at least three public hearings and a
public comment period of 90 days preceding toll changes.
In addition, the measure bans the use or possession of
devices used to change some traffic signals from red to green. Violators could
face up to six months in prison.
The portable signal pre-emption devices are intended to
allow police, fire and other emergency officials to clear intersections before
they approach, but are commonly sold on the Internet and catalogs.