The Ohio Turnpike Commission learned its lesson after travel plaza construction last summer made for long delays at the remaining plazas. Next summer, it will stagger the reconstruction projects.
Turnpike officials say they won't close four travel centers at the same time, like they did last summer.
The turnpike is replacing all 16 plazas, adding more restrooms, parking and food options. Four of the new centers are open. Work on the next pair, in Portage County, will start in the spring. In September, work will begin on the two travel plazas in Lorain County, the busiest on the turnpike.
Once those renovations are finished, the commission will review plans for the other eight travel centers.
The turnpike commission is also widening the toll road to three lanes in each direction along 160 miles of highway between Toledo and Youngstown. More than half the widening is finished. The rest is scheduled to be completed by 2004.
Both projects are being paid for with an 82% toll increase that took effect this year.
Last summer's construction fiasco hit truckers especially hard. Tractor-trailers at one plaza spilled over into the passenger car area and were lined up along the service roadway. Drivers of doubles and triples found it particularly difficult to maneuver. Many truckers had to leave the tollway at earlier exits to refuel or find a place to sleep.