James W. Shocknessey Ohio Turnpike
By the 1950s, roadways in Ohio primarily consisted of two lane roads, which became easily congested and did not allow for fast travel between cities. Adding to travel difficulties, most American families owned at least one car, dramatically increasing the amount of traffic on the roads. Automobiles also were much safer and capable of traveling at much faster speeds than earlier cars, enhancing Ohioans' desire for better roads.
Many Ohio cities had begun to plan for wider roads, with several additional lanes, to help speed travel. Realizing the need for better roadways, in 1949, the Ohio government established the Ohio Turnpike Commission. This office was to finance and construct a turnpike that crossed northern Ohio. It connected with the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the East and with another highway in Indiana in the West. James W. Shocknessey, chairperson of the Ohio Turnpike Commission, financed the roadway's construction with state bonds.
Construction began on October 27, 1952. At the peak of construction, more than ten thousand workers, using more than 2,300 construction vehicles, were building the roadway. The workers completed the Ohio Turnpike, later known as the James W. Shocknessey Turnpike, on October 1, 1955. The turnpike was 241 miles in length, and construction cost 325 million dollars. The turnpike, itself, did not pass through any of Ohio's major cities. The roadway's primary purpose was to speed thru traffic across the state.
Providing a fast and safe route across the northern part of Ohio, the roadway became an instant success, as thousands of people utilized it. On the first day alone, forty-four thousand cars traveled on the turnpike. By 2000, more than forty-five million cars used the James W. Shocknessey Ohio Turnpike every year.