Ohio Turnpike authorizes public hearings on toll increases

| 8/1/2006

The Ohio Turnpike Commission has authorized a series of public hearings on proposed increases in toll rates for trucks and passenger vehicles.

The commission rolled back truck fares in 2004 by 25 percent. Truck tolls would stay below the pre-reduction rate, according to the proposal.

Adopting the resolution on Monday, July 31, the commission authorized its executive director, Gary Suhadolnik, to schedule three public hearings and begin a 90-day comment period. Meetings and the comment period have not yet been scheduled.

The commission also moved to retain an independent consultant to make future recommendations on toll schedules based on finances.

In addition to increases, the proposed toll structure rounds off fares to the nearest quarter.

The entire 241-mile length of the Ohio Turnpike could soon cost a Class 8 trucker $33.50 instead of $31.00.

Tolls for passenger vehicles are proposed to increase from $8.95 to $10.25.

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft is opposed to toll increases.

A spokesman for the governor told an online news source, the Toledo Blade, that Taft, a Republican, will ask the Ohio General Assembly to roll back tolls if the commission tries to implement an increase.

The matter of tolling and privatization has become a campaign issue in Ohio, as Taft reaches his term limit in 2007.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell favors leasing the Ohio Turnpike to private investors, while U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Lisbon, is opposed to such a lease, the Blade reported.