Drivers on the Ohio Turnpike can only travel east or west. Tolls on the pay road, however, are heading north.
Ohio Turnpike commissioners recently voted to raise toll rates almost 3 percent each year for the next decade. The rate increase, beginning in January 2014, impacts people driving in either cars or trucks traveling more than 30 miles. The hike also affects anyone paying with cash, credit, debit or an E-ZPass.
A toll hike also coincides with commissioners borrowing $1 billion in new debt for major road and bridge projects throughout Ohio. The new debt adds to the $560 million existing outstanding amount the turnpike has amassed. About $70 million of this loan will pay to supplant the 241-mile toll road’s original base. The remaining funds, an unknown amount, will fix several Ohio roads and bridges that haven’t been announced yet.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich spearheaded a toll-hike plan to help start various infrastructure projects delayed for years. The infrastructure investment should generate should generate tens of thousands of construction jobs. But the benefits of increasing tolls touted by officials hardly resonates well with entrepreneurs.
Take Cameron Chandler, controller for Homan Transportation in Monroeville. Up to 60 company trucks simultaneously crisscross the East Coast and Midwest, primarily transporting milk and cream. Company truckers frequently drive on the Ohio Turnpike when, for instance, traveling to Michigan or New York.
Increased rates only complicate issue for Chandler, who can handle the situation in one of three ways:
• Absorb the additional cost, which cuts into the company’s profits.
• Charge clients more for services to help offset the hike.
• Keep trucks off toll roads — taking mostly parallel routes such as Ohio 2, U.S. 6 or U.S. 20, a move that would prolong trips.
“None of these options are attractive,” Chandler said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
A costly trip
The Ohio Turnpike commission voted to raise toll rates in each year for the next decade.
Here are the rates for what certain people pay today, next year and when the 10-year toll-hike plan ends in 2023:
Car w/ pass Car w/o pass Truck w/ pass Truck w/o pass
Today $11.25 $16.50 $35 $44
2014 $11.50 $17 $36 $45.25
2023 $14.75 $21.50 $45.75 $57.50
Source: Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission, Associated Press