Turnpike plaza

Vehicles head east on the Ohio Turnpike out of the existing Westgate Toll Plaza, just east of Ohio 49, on Wednesday.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency said the Ohio Turnpike’s planned construction of a new toll plaza in Williams County would impact wetlands in the area.

In a news release issued Tuesday, the OEPA said the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission has applied for a water quality certification for a project to construct a new toll plaza on the turnpike, between County Road 4 and County Road 5 near Montpelier.

“If the water quality certification is approved, the project would result in impacts to two high-quality and one low-quality wetlands and one stream in the St. Joseph River watershed,” the OEPA said in the release.

OEPA will present information and accept comments at an online public hearing set to begin at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 20.

The meeting may be accessed through OEPA’s website at https://epa.ohio.gov/virtual. During the meeting, questions and comments may be submitted though the virtual meeting application. On the day of the meeting, registered participants should join 10 minutes before the start time to ensure proper connectivity.

State law requires that entities that impact wetlands through projects complete proper steps for mitigation. OEPA said mitigation for this project would be onsite.

“The proposed project cannot violate Ohio’s water quality standards that protect human health and the environment. Ohio EPA will consider the technical, economic, social and environmental aspects of the project before deciding to issue or deny a permit,” OEPA said in the release.

Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission spokesman Brian Newbacher said construction will not take place until 2022. The OEPA said the nearby existing toll plaza would remain open during construction.

Newbacher also said the new Williams County plaza is one part of a multi-faceted project and declined to discuss more details, as they remain in flux.

“We have to organizationally put together a coherent rollout of how it’ll look to the public,” he said.

In 2018, The Blade in Toledo reported that the commission was developing a plan to cease toll collection at several interchanges at the turnpike’s eastern and western ends, with distance-based toll collection beginning just west of the Swanton interchange and to just east of the Niles/Warren interchange.

Under that plan, local traffic would be able to travel the turnpike for free between the Delta, Wauseon, Archbold and Bryan/Montpelier interchanges, with a single stand-alone toll plaza established on the main line near the current West Gate plaza just east of Ohio 49.

Ohio EPA will accept written comments about the certification until July 27. Comments should be emailed to epa.dswcomments@epa.ohio.gov.

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