More commercial truck traffic continued to travel along the 241-mile Ohio Turnpike during the first nine months of this year after breaking a record in 2021.
From January to September, more than 9.8 million commercial trucks drove along the turnpike (up 2%) compared with the same time last year, according to the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.
The Ohio Turnpike provides a strategic link between the East and Midwest. With trucks being the main freight movers, Ohio’s freight system transported over 1 billion tons of goods worth over $1.2 trillion in 2018, with 42.5% cargo moved within the state, 30.7% inbound and 26.8% outbound.
This year also saw a 3.5% climb for trucks in total vehicle miles (931 million), which accounted for slightly over 40% of all vehicle miles traveled on the turnpike.
“We are currently undertaking the largest construction project in the history of the Ohio Turnpike since the years leading up to its completion in 1955,” says Ferzan Ahmed, Ohio Turnpike and infrastructure Commission executive director. (LinkedIn)
Also on the rise is E-ZPass open road tolling on the Ohio Turnpike, with 89% of commercial truckers using the toll payment system, rising nearly 2% higher from January to September.
This year, the turnpike commission has been rolling out a new toll collection system with removals of tolling gates enabling greater use of E-ZPass tolling.
“We are currently undertaking the largest construction project in the history of the Ohio Turnpike since the years leading up to its completion in 1955,” Ferzan Ahmed, turnpike and infrastructure commission executive director, said recently. “The modernization of the turnpike will enable E-ZPass open road tolling and gateless low-speed conventional lanes to enhance the driving experience for our passenger car and commercial truck customers.”
The $232 million project involves modernizing 20 interchanges from toll plazas 52 to 209 that will eliminate the need for seven toll plazas with efficiency improvements. Expected to save $257 million in operating costs over 30 years, the new system will use fewer toll plazas, have automatic toll payment machines at all toll plazas with E-ZPass and result in removing toll gates at all entry lanes.
When complete next spring, drivers will be able to travel the full length of the turnpike at highway speeds without stopping.
Charles Cyrill, turnpike public information officer, said the toll road provides one of the safest and most convenient routes to reach east and west destinations along Ohio’s northern corridor and beyond.
“There are 14 state-of-the-art service plazas located about 30 to 50 miles apart offering commercial truck operators fuel, restrooms, convenience stores, restaurants, overnight parking and free 24-hour access to a lounge furnished with seating, television, Wi-Fi, private showers, coin-operated laundry and vending [towels, sundries and laundry supplies],” Cyrill noted.
Last year, the Middle Ridge and Vermilion Valley service plazas at Milepost 139.5 in Amherst were extensively renovated, with facility updates for commercial truck drivers.
In other trucking-related activities, turnpike officials this year began testing segments of a $3.7 million weigh-in motion system that has sensors installed in pavement to weigh trucks driving at highway speeds. The system is meant to detect overweight vehicles for enforcement.
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