Work in Fulton County connected to a multi-million dollar overhaul of the Ohio Turnpike won’t begin until at least the end of 2019.
The estimated $198-220 million toll collection system modernization plan adopted by the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission (OTIC) in December of 2017 will include construction of a new toll plaza at Milepost 49 in Swanton Township, spokesperson Brian Newbacher confirmed. The plaza will be equipped with EZ Pass lanes that will replace toll lane gates in the entrance lanes.
If necessary, existing sewer line in the Village of Swanton may have to be rerouted to accommodate a mile-long third lane extension being installed on either side of the Milepost 49 toll plaza. Newbacher said regardless of the work being anticipated the local community will still have access. “We do not anticipate any serious issues related to that,” he said.
He said nearly all toll lane gates at turnpike toll plaza entrance lanes will be removed. Additionally, Toll Plazas 13 (Bryan/Montpelier) through 39 (Delta/Lyons) are scheduled for removal. Exits 13, 24, 34 and 39 will be non-tolled so movements between them will be non-tolled. Customers will pay a toll if they cross the new plaza at MP 49.
Construction for the Ohio Turnpike modernization is expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2019 and conclude two years later. Despite the size of the project the turnpike should be fully operable by 2022, if not sooner, Newbacher said.
According to the OTIC, about $257 million in operating costs will be saved over a 30-year period due to the reduced number of toll plazas, eliminating toll gates at entrances, and an anticipated increase in EZ Pass use. Savings will also seen from a reduction in toll collection staff and utility/maintenance costs.
A survey conducted in 2016 by OTIC and a Cincinnati engineering consultant noted that 89 percent of Ohio Turnpike customers prefer removing toll lane gates along the route.
Randy Cole, OTIC executive director, called removing gates and adding technology “a bold step forward…Customers are asking us to remove gates and we are preparing to do so in less than three years…This is the right time to prepare our roadway for the future if we are going to remain a better way to travel.”
Ohio Turnpike customers traveled three billion miles between 2015-17. Last year, 55.2 million vehicles traveled the roadway, beating the previous record of 54.9 vehicles in 2016.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.