Kasich announcing plan for Ohio Turnpike's future

Ohio's governor wants to use the state's toll road that links the East Coast with the Midwest to raise up to $3 billion for road projects, closing a gaping hole in the state's highway budget.
Associated Press
Dec 13, 2012

 

The proposal means the Ohio Turnpike won't be sold or leased to a private operator — an option that drew complaints about the possibility of higher tolls and job losses for those who work on the toll road that cuts across northern Ohio.

Republican Gov. John Kasich proposed raising $1.5 billion through bond sales backed by future toll revenues. Up to an additional $1.5 billion could be generated by matching local and federal funds.

Kasich says the plan will be accomplished without job losses and while retaining the Ohio Turnpike Commission — renamed the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission — as a public entity.

"This plan just makes sense, as we continue Ohio's economic resurgence, grow jobs, and make our state prosperous once again," Kasich said in a statement released at a Toledo news conference.

Transportation Director Jerry Wray said the plan will erase a $1.6 billion highway budget deficit.

The pair plans to make additional stops in Cleveland, Youngstown, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati to tout the plan over the next two days.

Kasich's plan calls for toll increases capped at inflation for trucks, while freezing toll rates for 10 years on local trips paid for with an EZ Pass.

Ninety percent of the proceeds from bond sales would go to northern Ohio projects, including the turnpike. Diverting toll revenue off the roadway will require lawmaker approval.

The turnpike carries about 50 million vehicles each year across northern Ohio from Pennsylvania to Indiana on what is mostly Interstate 80.

The route, which stretches 241 miles, is funded through tolls and the sale of gas and food at rest stops.

Kasich at first appeared to be intent on leasing or selling the road, but local leaders from counties and cities along the along the turnpike objected loudly, saying they feared a private operator would spike tolls so high that traffic would be driven onto local routes that meander through small towns.

They pointed to the fact that tolls have nearly doubled since investors took over the Indiana Toll Road.

In Ohio, it's now $16.50 for cars making a full trip on the turnpike, which expects to collect a $250 million from motorists this year.

Kasich has maintained that the turnpike is an underutilized asset that can bring more revenue as he is preparing to roll out a new two-year budget early next year.

He initially said the state could get at least $2.5 billion in leasing it and has said the money would pay for work on roads, bridges and harbors without raising taxes. Thursday's announcement came after a KPMG study.

 

Comments

booster

Lets put a toll on I-71 so we can see all that income from both Columbus and Cincinnati as well.
Remember people, when the turnpike was created, the toll was supposed to expire when it was paid for. Years back, that "paid for" date was met and rates went up.
Boy, I hate the turnpike concept.

luvblues2

Toll all the Interstate Routes. Make them pay for themselves.

FlyBoy86

So you're moving debt from one organization to another. This doesn't solve the "Shortfall", it just moves money from one account to another. What happens when the State cannot repay the issued bonds? Will the Turnpike ownership be split between the bond holders? You can't force people to use the Turnpike.

EdO's

Let's take something we own outright and hock it so we can pay for more overspending? NO.

Kimo

Kasich reminds me of Jim Rhodes.

He promised jobs and sold bonds to finance his schemes.

When he got in trouble he closed the asylums and put those people on the street.

wetsu

90% of bond sales would go to northern Ohio projects, eh? He was reported as telling Hamilton County officials that a portion would go to renovating the Brent Spence bridge connecting Cincy and northern Kentucky. I'll bet they liked the idea of getting a piece of that northern Ohio money.

Contango

Privatize it.

"In statist France, it's worth noting, the freeway system is privately run, funded by tolls, and in better condition than its American counterpart.

In any case, to argue that more public spending would accelerate American economic growth is to ignore the fact that all major European nations have higher levels of public spending than the United States does—and that all are poorer."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB...

Don S

Making all interstate highways toll roads is a bad idea. What I have seen in this article is reasonable for the turnpike and the state. I don't trust Kasich, but I think he listened to the people of Ohio for once. As for toll roads, in general, they can cost too much in many ways. One is mismanagement, thru no road upkeep and high tolls. The other is the waste in fuel for people driving longer distances to avoid toll roads. I go 200 miles out of my way to avoid the tolls around and near Chicago and so do about all semi-trucks. I will not travel the Indiana Toll road, because of the terrible condition that the road is in, another waste of fuel and longer distance to avoid it. But, people there is alot of road work being done on the interstate roads and their bridges. I saw this on my travels across this great country of ours.

DGMutley

I don't like it--slippery slope. Tantamount to privatizing it.