Turnpike Construction Means Slowdowns And Detours But Faster Toll Booths

An Ohio toll plaza with EZ Pass lanes.
Lift gates will be eliminated for EZ Pass customers [Mark Urycki / idestream]
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Construction season for the Ohio Turnpike kicked off this week. That means some slow going for people using I-77 but a new toll gate system will mean a quicker time for those using EZ Pass. 

The Turnpike Commission will be spending almost $200 million this year replacing pavement and bridges along the 60-year-old toll road. There’s something to slow down everyone.  

A 30-year plan to replace all the pavement and bridge decks is only one-fifth complete and this year Cuyahoga, Lorain, and Summit Counties will be the focus.

Last year, travelers looking to enter the turnpike from I-77 southbound were out of luck as the entrance ramp was rebuilt. This year, motorists trying to head onto I-77 northbound will be detoured to Rt. 21 before they can get on 77.  

Later in the year crews will begin building some toll plazas without gates says Ohio Turnpike Commission spokesman Brian Newbacher. 

“We’re going to make it a lot faster for our EZ Pass customers,” he said. “They’ll still need to slow it down to exit at various plazas, but they won’t encounter a gate.”

This year also kicks off a project to eliminate gates at the Indiana and Pennsylvania borders. EZ Pass cars will be recorded electronically without need for the toll booth.

“So in other words,” said Newbacher, “the EZ Pass customers will go through at turnpike speed limit [70mph] and cash paying customers will be channeled off and separated by a barrier. And then they’ll have to slow down, get their ticket, and proceed.” 

 

Some of the turnpike revenue goes to other road projects in Ohio like the I-90 Voinovich Bridge in Cleveland [Mark Urytcki/ Ideastream]

After changes pushed by the Kasich Administration, a portion of  turnpike toll money is now being spent on non-turnpike road projects. Newbacher notes the George Voinovich Bridge on I-90 in Cleveland is partly funded by the turnpike. 

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