SPECIAL REPORT: Ohio reveals plan to lure trucks to turnpike

| 10/11/2004

Most truckers to get 27 percent toll reduction

Truck drivers got the full picture today from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio Turnpike Commission on plans to attract them back to the toll way with hefty toll reductions.

The final piece of the Northern Ohio Freight Plan includes an 18-month trial turnpike toll reduction for large trucks beginning by February. 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 will drop from $42.45 to $31 to cross the state.

Gov. Bob Taft announced the final details of strategies to get more commercial vehicles on the turnpike at a press conference Oct. 11 near Toledo.

Taft said the turnpike and highway department would share the costs of this reduction for trucks. The lower tolls are a rollback of the increases that took effect in 1999, leading truck traffic to spill over to smaller roads.

The governor requested the freight plan during a tour of northern Ohio communities in August where complaints about truck traffic have been on the rise.

Today's announcement follows up a decision reached this summer to boost truck speeds along the 240-mile toll road from 55 mph to 65 mph, the same as all other vehicles. The intent of the speed increase, which took effect Sept. 8, was to steer truckers off overloaded two-lane roads and back onto the toll road.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Turnpike Commission enacted lower diesel prices at all 16 Sunoco service stations along the route. The average discounted rate from Oct. 4-10 was about 5.5 cents per gallon.

Lauren Dehrmann, a turnpike spokeswoman, said the rate would fluctuate from week to week, depending on the Oil Price Information Service survey results.

- By Keith Goble, state legislative editor