BEREA, Ohio (WYTV) – The opening of the Ohio Turnpike took place at night near the Ohio-Indiana border with a policeman officially opening the gate at 12:01 a.m.
The Ohio Governor Frank J. Lausch declared, “Remove all barricades. Open the gates and let the traffic flow!”
Earlier this afternoon at the Eastgate terminal in Springfield Township, a ceremony was held commemorating the 60th anniversary of what was then called a most modern transportation facility. In 1955 it was A big deal. People could now drive their cars and trucks across Ohio without stopping.
Construction of the Turnpike started three years earlier in 1952. One of the first sections was the bridges over the Cuyahoga River. Similar twin bridges had to be built over the Maumee River near Toledo.
By December 1, 1954, 10 months before the entire turnpike was made available, it was decided to first open a 22 mile stretch starting at the Pennsylvania line what was then known as the Youngstown interchange.
WYTV 33 News was there to cover the event. The program called it the opening of the Eastgate section. Bands from Niles, Canfield and Springfield played at the opening.
Just before the ribbon was cut, state patrolmen from Ohio and Pennsylvania shook hands officially linking the two turnpikes.
Sixty years later, the Ohio Turnpike is still carrying commerce across the northern part of the state.
The Ohio Turnpike is responsible for generating more than $500 million in northern Ohio economic activity each year. In addition to its 950 employees, there are approximately 3,000 more workers employed in jobs that are affiliated with 14 Service Plazas, which also generate significant local sales taxes.
Pennsylvania also celebrated its anniversary Thursday. It was 75 years ago that the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened. A re-enactment was held at the Carlisle interchange.