Ohio schedules first hearing on proposed toll increases

| 8/16/2006

Despite opposition from the governor, the Ohio Turnpike Commission is going ahead with the first of three public hearings in the process to increase tolls.

The commission has proposed an 8 percent increase for heavy trucks to take effect on Jan. 1, 2007. For Class 8 trucks, the toll to travel the length of the 241-mile route would increase from $31 to $33.50. Car drivers would face about a 13.5 percent rate boost.

Commissioners said a toll increase is needed to gain back some of the revenue from a 25 percent rollback implemented several years ago when the commission received a state subsidy. That subsidy has since expired.

By law, the commission must hold three public hearings on proposed changes to toll rates. The commission voted July 31 to authorize the hearings.

The first hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m., Aug. 29 at the Government Center, 1 Government Center, Jackson Blvd., Toledo, OH, 43604.

Aug. 29 also marks the start of a 90-day public comment period.

Public comments can be directed to Executive Director Gary Suhadolnik of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, 682 Prospect St., Berea, OH, 44017. The commission’s phone number is (440) 234-2081. A link on the commission Web site, ohioturnpike.org, provides the visitor with a form to comment online.

Gov. Bob Taft is on record opposing the proposed toll increase. A Taft spokesman has said the governor will seek an intervention by the Ohio General Assembly if the turnpike commission authorizes a toll increase.

On Wednesday, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association sent a “Call to Action” to approximately 6,200 members in Ohio to inform them of the comment period and the hearings.

OOIDA has a current membership of more than 143,000 in the U.S. and Canada.

– By David Tanner, staff writer