Turnpikes date to the 1790s, when the first major U.S. toll roadthe Philadelphia and Lancaster Turnpike in Pennsylvaniawas built. In time, a toll road was built through Ohio, making travel easier for horsemen, buggies and Conestoga wagons heading west. A toll of two cents per every 10 miles was charged for horses, and additional tolls were charged for conveyances that were expected to wear down the road, according to www.ohioturnpike.org.
As Ohio's population grew, new concrete roads appeared along with automobiles and steel bridges. During the post-World War II boom, Ohio residents wanted to transport products more quickly, access distant cities and recreational sites more easily and alleviate traffic-choked roadways.
Ohio's leaders wanted a nonstop span of road across the state, and in 1949 the Ohio Turnpike Commission was created to oversee construction of the state's superhighway.
Following are some facts about the Ohio Turnpike:
- To fund the Ohio Turnpike, the Ohio Turnpike Commission issued $326 million in revenue bonds.
- At the time it was built, the turnpike was the biggest construction project in Ohio's history.
- The project broke ground Oct. 27, 1952.
- At peak construction, the project involved 10,000 workers and 2,300 bulldozers, graders, loaders and other machines.
- The 241-mile highway was completed Oct. 1, 1955.
- Opening day traffic totaled 44,000 vehicles.
- The turnpike's official name is James W. Shocknessy Ohio Turnpike; Shocknessy was the Ohio Turnpike Commission's first chairman.
- During 1956, its first full year of operation, about 10 million cars and trucks used the turnpike; in 2006, more than 51.7 million vehicles used the turnpike.
- During a 40-year time period, Ohio Turnpike closings because of bad weather have totaled 77 hours.
- In 2006, vehicles logged more than 3 billion miles of Ohio Turnpike driving, with an accident rate less than half the national average.