CLEVELAND (WJW) — A big change is coming to the Ohio Turnpike in the spring of 2023 thanks to a new law passed in December designed to keep E-ZPass customers moving swiftly while punishing drivers who use gateless E-ZPass lanes without paying.
“The new state law permits the Ohio Turnpike to collect a toll fees from non E-ZPass customers who drive through its gateless E-ZPass lanes without paying,” said Charles Cyrill, Public Information Officer for the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission.
Drivers without the pass who use the E-ZPass lane anyway should expect to pay their delinquent toll and could face additional fees. Cyrill said the penalty structure is still being determined.
The Ohio Turnpike Commission plans to catch drivers who do not pay through the use of cameras that will photograph vehicle license plates. Drivers who take advantage of the gateless system will also have to pay up in order to register their vehicles.
“The toll system will photograph license plates and send a bill to customers who travel through ungated E-Z lanes without a valid E-ZPass transponder,” said Cyrill. “Under the new law the turnpike commission will work with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles to require vehicle owners to pay their delinquent tolls before they can register their vehicle, but before that happens motorists will have ample opportunities to pay their tolls online or by mail.”
Removing the gates in the E-ZPass lanes is part of the Ohio Turnpike’s new Toll Collection System. Drivers without the pass will still need to stop to pay their toll using cash or credit.
“Removing the gates will create new open road tolling lanes,” said Cyrill. “Motorists will be able to travel the full length of the Ohio Turnpike nonstop in E-ZPass lanes at highway speeds.”
Cyrill said the Ohio Turnpike Commission surveyed more than 14,000 E-ZPass drivers who overwhelmingly wanted the gates in those lanes eliminated. The new law will better ensure drivers without the pass cannot skip paying their toll.
The new toll collection system is expected to save about $257 million in operating costs over 30 years according to Cyrill. Due in part to a projected increase in E-ZPass usage, a reduction of toll plazas from 31 to 24, the addition of automatic toll payment machines at all toll plazas and the elimination of toll gates on all entry lanes.
According to the Ohio Turnpike Commission, creating a new toll collection system is estimated to cost between $204 and $232 million.