State Sen. Lynn Wachtmann and state Rep. Rex Damschroder, both Republican, say the work of the seven-member commission could easily be absorbed by the Ohio Department of Transportation. After all, the state DOT maintains 113,000 miles of highway in the state. The 241-mile turnpike across northern Ohio is the state’s only toll road.
Both lawmakers are unhappy about the recently completed toll increase of 82% over three years, which was put in place to raise money for a third lane in both directions. They believe if turnpike maintenance and construction are done through other agencies, tolls could actually be reduced. “Lower fees would attract the truck traffic back on the turnpike where it belongs,” Damschroder said in an interview with the Associated Press.
G. Alan Plain, the turnpike’s executive director, also wants to get trucks back on the turnpike. He has been trying to get the state Legislature to give truckers a rebate of the 22 cents per gallon that they pay the state in fuel taxes for fuel used on the turnpike. The rebate would lower truck tolls by 26%, he says.