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Some big changes coming to the Ohio Turnpike

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Posted at 5:00 AM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 06:57:31-04

CLEVELAND — It wouldn't be the summer season in ohio right now without some road construction, but some projects along the Ohio Turnpike are slowing down your road trip for a good reason.

The Turnpike is undertaking some large-scale reconstruction projects to help modernize the toll collection system and improve service plazas. Meanwhile, the state Senate just passed bill to prepare for a new era of electronic toll collection.

Right now construction is underway on the turnpike across the state for four new state-of-the-art toll plazas near Toledo, Youngstown and the Eastgate and Westgate plazas.

Plus, the toll plaza near North Olmsted and the service plaza in Portage County are expanding this summer. It's all part of a plan approved by the Ohio Turnpike Commission back in 2017.

"This new system, it's been asked for for a number of years by our customers, and we're pleased to be able to provide it,” Brian Newbacher, spokesperson for the Ohio Turnpike, said.

Upgrades at service plazas include new food vendors and more electric vehicle charging stations.

But the biggest change is at the toll plazas is the new technology to improve traffic flow by allowing EZ Pass users to travel through nonstop while maintaining highway speeds up to 75 mph.

“Our EZ Pass customers in particular will really benefit because we're removing all the gates,” Newbacher said.

Those still using cash or credit cards will be in separate lanes, going through toll booths with a new ticket system.

“You'll just take a ticket and then there will be no gate. You just move out from there,” Newbacher said.

This week, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed a bill to set up a process to create penalties for those who don't pay the tolls.

“So that will help us make sure we collect that revenue,” Newbacher said.

The bill still has to be passed in the Ohio House.

Meanwhile, the Ohio Turnpike Commission says the changes will reduce the total number of toll plazas in Ohio from 31 to 24, saving about $257 million in operating costs over 30 years.

“And people are really going to be happy with the system once it goes live in less than two years,” Newbacher said.

So while you may be slowing down in some spots this summer, things will be speeding up soon.

The turnpike is slated to switch to a new electronic toll system in the spring of 2023, but soon travelers will be able to win some pretty cool prizes just by driving on the turnpike.

Travelers can enter the "Ohio Scenic Road Trip Contest" by simply posting a photo of themselves on social media at any of the 16 ohio scenic travel destinations using the hashtags "#FindItHere" and "#ohtpkPIBcontest" on the posts.

The winner will get a prize package to put-in-bay including ferry tickets, free golf cart and kayak rentals ,150 dollars to spend at boardwalk restaurants and a 50 dollar gas gift card.

“We decided that it'd be a good idea with people coming out of the pandemic restrictions and so forth, probably being some more travel going on. Why not find a way to reward our customers with some fun promotions,” Newbacher said.

CLICK HERE for more information about the contest.

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