Ohio turnpike traffic up 25 percent following toll, speed changes

| 6/20/2005

The New York State Thruway Authority should pay close attention to this one.

Ohio Department of Transportation officials reported in early June that truck traffic on the Ohio Turnpike has increased by about 24 percent since the commission made a series of sweeping changes in 2004, according to The Associated Press.

In the fall of last year, the Ohio Turnpike Commission decided to increase the speed limit and reduce tolls for trucks in an effort to lure them back to the turnpike.

Trucks left the pike in droves following an 82 percent toll increase in 1999. The result was a dramatic increase in truck traffic through small towns along state highways. This, in turn, led to a backlash from those towns whose residents were fed up with the traffic.

But angry residents were only part of the problem for the state.

According to the commission’s annual report, toll revenue from commercial vehicles – which accounts for about half of the turnpike’s toll revenue – dropped by $4.3 million between 1999 and 2003.

In 2004, the speed limit for large trucks was increased to 65 mph – the same speed as all other vehicles – while the toll rates were dropped anywhere from 2 percent to 57 percent, depending on the size of the truck.

For Class 8 trucks, they cut the toll to travel the 241-mile turnpike from Indiana to Pennsylvania from $42.45 to $31.