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Big changes underway along Ohio Turnpike: What you can expect amid removal of gates at toll plazas, lane conversions

The plan also features the renovation of four mainline toll plazas that will permit E-ZPass open road tolling.

BEREA, Ohio — Changes are currently in progress along the Ohio Turnpike in what is being called “the largest construction project” in the roadway’s history since the years leading up to its completion in 1955.

It’s a project that involves lane conversions, the removal of gates at toll plaza interchanges and the installation of new electronic tolling equipment. The plan also features the renovation of four mainline toll plazas that will permit E-ZPass open road tolling.

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“All of the entry gates in the converted lanes will be removed for the benefit of our E-ZPass customers. However, non-E-ZPass customers will have to stop to get a ticket,” explains Ferzan Ahmed, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. “In addition, we urge all motorists to obey the 10-mph speed limit in all toll lanes for the safety of travelers and turnpike employees. This is especially important as we begin to remove the entry gates as part of our new system conversion.”

Updates are currently underway at these four toll plaza interchanges:

  • Toll Plaza 52 (Toledo Airport-Swanton / Route 2)
  • Toll Plaza 71 (Stony Ridge-Toledo / Route 420 and I-280)
  • Toll Plaza 151 (North Ridgeville-Cleveland / I-480)
  • Toll Plaza 173 (Cleveland / Route 21 and I-77)

“In all, 20 interchanges from toll plazas 52 to 209 along the Ohio Turnpike will be converted under the TCS (Toll Collection System) modernization plan, which includes a reduction of toll plazas from 31 to 24,” Turnpike officials said in a press release.

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What does this mean? Here’s what Ohio Turnpike officials are saying…

The newly constructed mainline toll plaza at milepost 49 in Swanton was the first of four new or reconstructed mainline toll plazas necessary for the implementation of the new TCS and E-ZPass open road tolling.

Construction of Toll Plaza 49 was substantially completed in late 2021. It is currently being used for testing components of the new system.

Construction of the new mainline Westgate Toll Plaza in Edon at milepost 4 and mainline Toll Plaza 211 in Newton Falls are underway and will continue through 2022. Eastgate Toll Plaza in Springfield Township at milepost 239 will be renovated.

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“These four mainline toll plazas will have state-of-the-art E-ZPass lanes,” Ahmed added. “E-ZPass customers will be able to travel the full length of the Ohio Turnpike non-stop at highway speeds without toll plaza lane gates. Customers without an E-ZPass will still have the option to take a ticket and pay using cash or a credit card.”

The capital cost for the entire TCS project is estimated at about $232 million. The new TCS is expected to save about $257 million in operating costs over 30 years.

The operational savings is a result of the reduction in the number of toll plazas from 31 to 24; the addition of automatic toll payment machines at all toll plazas; the elimination of toll gates at all entry lanes; and a projected increase in E-ZPass usage.

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The Dynamic Message Signs (DMS) on the gantry above the converted entrance lanes will still depict “TICKETS/E-ZPASS” and “E-ZPASS ONLY” or “TICKETS ONLY,” so as motorists approach a toll plaza they can enter the appropriate lane, says Laurie Davis, director of toll operations for the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.

To further assist motorists in getting accustomed to the new system, new Patron Dynamic Message Signs (PDMS) will be installed at eye level at each of the converted lanes. The PDMS will provide the customer with messages, such as “E-ZPASS ACCEPTED,” which indicates an account is in good standing; or “E-ZPASS ACCEPTED, LOW BALANCE, CHECK ACCOUNT,” which indicates an account balance is getting low; or “TAKE TICKET” if an E-ZPass transponder was not read properly or there’s another issue.

“If you go through the toll plaza and your E-ZPass does not read properly, the machine will issue a ticket. Pull the ticket and take it with you. Upon exit go to ticket lane, give your ticket and transponder to the toll collector so that your E-ZPass account is properly charged the exact toll rate,” Davis added. “If your transponder is properly mounted, you will likely not have this issue. If you wave the transponder, you may experience this problem.”

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Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in an unrelated story on Aug. 23, 2022.

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