Apr 30, 2014

How much did the Ohio Turnpike mess cost?

Who is paying to clean up the Ohio Turnpike after all the cars were piled up and stuck for hours? Will it be taxpayers or the companies whose trucks were driving during the Level 3 snow emergency? Linda in Sandusky

Linda's referencing a triple-fatal crash occurring on the Ohio Turnpike in March, stranding hundreds of motorists on the highway for hours.

Adam Greenslade, an Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission spokesman, provided the following response:

First, in an effort to clear up a common misconception, the Ohio Turnpike’s operations are funded almost entirely by toll revenue, not taxes. In 2013, nearly 93 percent of the turnpike’s overall revenue budget was funded by customer tolls. The remaining 7 percent is almost exclusively from concession sales at each of its 14 service plazas.

In regards to the question as to who pays for the cleanup related to accidents on the Ohio Turnpike, the short answer is that at-fault drivers do. Not only do those responsible pay for labor and services related to the clean-up effort, they are also billed for any property damage or loss of toll revenue resulting from the accident. The accounting for the unfortunate and tragic events of March 12 is much more complex, given the volume of vehicles involved and number of individual incidents. The Ohio Turnpike, in coordination with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, is working to identify all responsible parties and will invoice drivers, companies and/or insurance providers accordingly.

The Register immedidately relayed a public records request to collect the invoices, to which Greenslade responded with this:

I do not have any clear indication from our general counsel as to when these invoices will be sent. I know they are still collecting information related to the overall costs, and they’re hoping to complete this portion as early as next week, however, the apportionment of these costs to at-fault parties could take months for the reasons I cited in the previous response.

The Register sent another public to the legal counsel seeking to obtain any and all invoices once generated. It's not known when that will be.


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Turnpike should pay, they were ones with open road and they have more money than bill gates


Because they have bill gates


All roads were open. I don't know of any that were actually closed. Nonetheless, county emergency levels do not apply to the turnpike.


I was involved in an accident about 10 years ago on the New York turnpike. I was hit from behind by a semi driver. The semi that hit me kept going, my car was totaled. Luckily there was a man that was behind us both, that seen the entire accident. About 6 months later I got a bill from N.Y. Turnpike for the $6.70 toll, as well as $275.00 for grade work, (due to my car finally coming to a stop, on the side of the road in the grass), that as of 2 months ago still hasn't been touched. It took 6 months but I got billed. I'm sure Ohio is no different, just give them some time.


From March 28 Register article comments:

According to the article Patrol Lt. Brett Gockstetter, commander of the Milan post said, "Some vehicles were involved in “multiple” crashes as part of a chainreaction brought on by whiteout conditions in the snowstorm."

If this is the case then the Patrol is at fault because they should have shut down the road. How can someone be cited if a whiteout caused the accident?


Oh yes, please, Big Brother, relieve us of responsibility for having common sense.

YOU are responsible to decide in what conditions you go out on the road.

YOU are responsible to decide how fast to decide under the given conditions.

YOU are responsible for knowing when to turn on your headlights.

This must be why you think the city needs so much more revenue - so they can spend it wiping residents' noses for them, eh?


You're right. The driver assumes the risk when he drives. You can always pull off to the side of the road.

The Turnpike though says that they recover damages from drivers at fault. The Patrol says the accident was caused by a white-out.

The probable scenario is the Turnpike will bill the insurance companies and the insurance companies will pay.

The Turnpike has shut down lanes in hazardous conditions so it's at least debatable whether the pike should pick up part of the tab.

More importantly though is that the Patrol was or is considering criminal charges against some of the drivers involved in the pileup.


The accident was not caused by a whiteout. It was caused by inappropriate driver response to the whiteout. It was caused by inappropriate speed, inappropriate following distance, inappropriate use of lights, and other decisions made by drivers at the time. There were no doubt drivers slightly ahead of the pile up who couldn't see it in their rearview mirrors, who managed to negotiate the conditions successfully.

The whiteout statement is an oversimplification offered to the press to avoid long discussions of collision forensics and the difficulty of discovering which vehicle first lost control or struck another.


C'mon Nemesis, you can't tell us what was in the patrol's mind when they made the statement--Judge Judy says.

A driver is unable to do anything in a white-out--it's equivalent to closing your eyes while your car is moving--I've been in enough of them.


So have I, and yet, here we both are, in one piece. It's all a matter of not overdriving your visibility. If that means you crawl at 1 mph, then that's what you do. If it means you have to stop, you find the shoulder by feel at a snail's pace, and stop. All this assumes you were maintaining proper clearances for the conditions the whole time.

I know people who've crossed the bay in zero visibility fog - there are procedures for doing so and they followed them.

If everybody responds appropriately to the conditions, the situation ends well. In this case, one or more people did not respond appropriately, and those one or more people are at fault.

There are definitely people who should not be out in those conditions, just as there are people who should not go skydiving or mountain climbing. As Dirty Harry said "a man's got to know his limitations."