BEREA, Ohio – The Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission will invest up to $233 million on toll road modernization, mainline pavement replacement, resurfacing, bridge, and other projects in 2022.
The construction season is set to include installation of automatic traffic recorders at Fulton County toll plazas and infrastructure upgrades at the Swanton interchange. Both are part of the toll collection system modernization on the Turnpike.
The new mainline toll plaza at milepost 49 in Swanton, which was completed in 2021, is currently being used to test components of the new system.
Construction of the new mainline Westgate Toll Plaza at milepost 3.6 in Edon and the new mainline Toll Plaza at milepost 211 in Newton Falls are also part of the Ohio Turnpike’s new Toll Collection System (TCS), which Turnpike officials said will modernize and improve the turnpike experience for both passenger car and commercial truck customers.
“We are about one year away from open road tolling on the Ohio Turnpike, which is scheduled to debut in spring 2023. Once complete, our E-ZPass customers will be able to travel the full length of the 241-mile Ohio Turnpike at highway speeds without stopping,” said Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the turnpike commission. “Customers, who save an average of 33% on tolls with E-ZPass, will continue to receive discounted toll rates when traveling through gateless E-ZPass entry and exit lanes. Motorists without E-ZPass will still have the option to exit the turnpike and pay their tolls with cash or credit card at gated toll lanes.”
The automatic traffic recorders will be installed at nine toll plazas on the far eastern and western ends, including those in Fulton County.
Automatic traffic recorders (ATR), which is a camera system that can count and classify traffic along the mainline of the turnpike, are being installed at the Bryan-Montpelier, Archbold-Fayette, Wauseon, and Delta-Lyons toll plazas and five others in eastern Ohio. Part of the ATR project, which costs $376,050 for the construction of the infrastructure components, began in 2021 and was scheduled for completion by Perram Electric, Inc. (Wadsworth, Ohio) in March followed by hardware and software installation and system testing.
There will be infrastructure upgrades to install new tolling equipment at 20 interchanges from Toll Plaza 52 (Swanton/Toledo Airport) to Toll Plaza 209. The Swanton interchange and 19 others will be upgraded with new tolling equipment, which includes the installation of all new electronic hardware, such as automated toll payment machines, cameras, and cabinets to encase computers, as well as additional electrical and structural work for TCS integration.
Regent Electric, Inc. of Toledo and Yates Electric, Inc. of Aliquippa, Pa. will perform the work from April 25 through February 2023, which also includes minor pavement repairs in the toll lanes following the removal of underground electronic devices and sensors that were used to classify and weigh vehicles. The project will cost more than $10 million, which includes contractor costs, and administration, inspection and testing fees.
Also, Toll Plaza 64 (Wood County) and Toll Plaza 152 (Lorain County) will both be expanded by the construction of concrete toll islands, toll booths and canopies and other structural work to relieve congestion during periods of high traffic volume.
Conduent State and Local Solutions, Inc., of Germantown, Maryland, was awarded the contract for the purchase, implementation and testing of the hardware and software to modernize the toll collection system, including the installation of the ATR and WIM systems equipment. The new technology will enable gateless low-speed conventional lanes and highway-speed open road tolling. The project began in 2021 and is expected to be completed in spring 2023.
As the nine-month construction season is set to begin, it’s also an opportunity to remind motorists about driving safely in and around work zones along the 241-mile Ohio Turnpike or any other roadway under construction.
“Raising awareness of work zone safety on behalf of our roadway crews, contractors and motorists during the construction season is a top priority,” said Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the turnpike commission. “When driving through work zones, it’s important for motorists to establish a safe following distance, maintain the work zone speed limit, pay attention to the signs, avoid distractions, and be prepared to slow down or stop.”
There were 1,443 vehicle crashes in work zones on the Ohio Turnpike from 2016-2020, averaging 289 crashes per year over the same five-year period, according to statistics provided by the Ohio Department of Public Safety.
“Speeding in work zones is a primary cause of crashes,” Ahmed added. “The Highway Patrol will be conducting speed enforcement, including aerial enforcement, in work zones on the Ohio Turnpike during the construction season.”