Ohio speeds, toll rates on the rise

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/2/2013

Gov. John Kasich signed a bill into law on Monday, April 1, to increase speed limits 5 mph on rural interstates and boost tolls on the Ohio Turnpike.

The two-year, $7.6 billion transportation budget bill includes the governor’s plan to borrow $1.5 billion against the turnpike to help pay for road work across the state.

The main component in HB51 guarantees that 90 percent of the bond money will be used on northern Ohio roads. Specifically, the money can be used on roads within 75 miles of the turnpike.

Sen. Gayle Manning, R-North Ridgeville, said the investment in transportation will help the state’s economy grow.

“This investment in Ohio roads will create up to 65,000 jobs and literally pave the way for new economic growth and business expansion,” Manning said in a news release.

In return for the toll road taking on debt, toll rates will increase annually for the next 10 years for many users. Toll rates for EZ Pass users traveling fewer than 30 miles on the turnpike will be frozen for the next decade.

Another provision increases speeds by 5 mph for all vehicles on the state’s rural interstates.

State law now authorizes truckers and other drivers to travel 65 mph on the affected roadways. As of July 1, the speed change included in the budget bill will change the posted speed limit to 70 mph.

In 2009, truck speeds were increased from 55 mph to 65 mph on the affected roads – the same as other vehicles. In 2011, the Ohio Turnpike implemented a 70 mph limit.

Other speed changes in the budget bill include setting the maximum speed for urban interstate outer belts, such as Interstate 675 around Dayton and I-275 around Cincinnati, at 65 mph – up from 60 mph.

Freeways in congested areas could be set at 55 mph. Speeds on two-lane highways outside of cities could also increase to 60 mph from 55 mph.

One provision dropped from the bill as it made its way through the statehouse called for increasing truck weights. Specifically, the change would have permitted trucks to weigh up to 90,000 pounds on non-interstate and local roads – up from 80,000 pounds.

Opponents, including OOIDA Member Andy Young of Ridgeville, OH, told lawmakers that shippers and receivers would benefit from the change but small-business operators would get stuck with the bill for increased operating and equipment costs.

The bill does include a provision to allow triple trailers traveling without a special permit on the Ohio Turnpike to travel up to two miles from the roadway.

The governor used his line-item veto authority to remove one provision that sought to use $7.5 million annually from the Ohio Department of Transportation to reimburse railroads for road maintenance within the rights-of-way that they own or control.

“This provision represents a shift in the responsibility for routine maintenance of crossings from the railroads to the state, thereby diverting limited transportation resources from much-needed highway projects across the state,” Kasich wrote in his veto message.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio, click here.

Editor’s Note: You are welcome to share your thoughts with us about this story. Comments may be sent to state_legislative_editor@ooida.com.

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