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New $20M turnpike plaza nears completion

NEWTON FALLS — Motorists on the Ohio Turnpike are beginning to see its new toll collection system — from lane conversions to gate removal at interchanges to new construction — that paves the way for open- road tolling.

The work includes the Mahoning Valley, where in Newton Township the construction of a $20 million mainline toll plaza remains on target.

The project also includes construction of highway speed E-Z Pass lanes, often referred to as open road tolling, an advance that lets E-Z Pass users who are traveling the full length of the turnpike to travel nonstop at the highway speed of 70 mph.

“Construction of the toll plaza and pavement replacement in the eastbound lanes are expected to be completed by the end of 2022,” said Charles Cyrill, spokesman for the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission. “Construction of the westbound lanes was completed in 2021.”

Meanwhile, lane conversion and gate removal at toll plaza at interchange 209 on state Route 5 just outside of Newton Falls is scheduled to begin in December.

“It is currently business-as-usual,” said Cyrill, at the remaining toll plaza interchanges east of Newton Falls — 215, 216, 218, 232 and 234 — to the turnpike’s Eastgate Toll Plaza in Mahoning County at the Pennsylvania line.

“After the new toll collection system goes live, tolls will no longer be collected from customers exiting at these toll plaza interchanges. They will become non-tolled interchanges,” Cyrill said.

The structure at Eastgate in Springfield is scheduled to be renovated. Construction of the westbound lanes up to the toll plaza is underway and will continue until the end of 2022. Construction of the eastbound lanes was completed in 2021.

Lane conversions, which includes installing new electronic tolling equipment, removing of all entrance gates and the removing gates from E-ZPass exit lanes is already underway at four toll plaza interchanges, the closest in North Ridgeville that connects to Interstate 480 and outside Cleveland that connects Interstate 77.

In all, 20 interchanges from toll plazas from outside of Toledo to the interchange in Newton Falls will be converted to the new toll collection system under a plan to modernize the turnpike, which includes a reduction of toll plazas from 31 to 24.

“The modernization of the turnpike will enable E-ZPass open road tolling and gateless low-speed conventional lanes to enhance the driving experience for our passenger car and commercial truck customers,” said Ferzan Ahmed, commission executive director.

“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,” he said. “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.”

rselak@tribtoday.com

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