Ohio Gov Kasich Touts Ambitious Transportation Plan
Gov. John R. Kasich recently announced a jobs and transportation plan that includes more than 40 major road construction projects across the state that the Ohio Department of Transportation plans to build over the next six years. These projects will improve motorist safety, reduce congestion on highways, add capacity and improve the state’s economy. All told, ODOT plans to spend nearly $3 billion on these projects. It is estimated that for every billion dollars spent on transportation infrastructure, 30,000 jobs are created.
The Ohio General Assembly’s passage of the state’s $7.6 billion two-year Transportation Budget, which Gov. Kasich signed into law in April, allows the newly renamed Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission to seek an estimated $1.5 billion in bonds backed by future revenues to finance additional transportation projects. The bill said the projects must have a “nexus” with the turnpike and must be within 75 mi. (120.7 km) of the turnpike. Projects considered for turnpike funding must be approved by ODOT’s Transportation Review Advisory Council, or TRAC. The TRAC approves all major new capacity projects more than $12 million. Following TRAC approval, the projects must be approved by the Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission before they move forward. Under the plan recently unveiled by Governor Kasich, all of the projects that will be funded by this revenue stream will meet that definition.
As a result of this legislation, projects that were once delayed for more than a decade will be built in the next few years.
Examples include Cleveland’s $324 million Opportunity Corridor that will link the city’s University Circle business district with Interstate 490. In addition, it will fund the second $340 million Innerbelt Bridge project on Interstate 90 over the Cuyahoga River in downtown Cleveland. Other projects that will move forward include:
• Two projects to widen I-271 in Summit and Cuyahoga counties totaling nearly $200 million
• Adding lanes to I-80 through Mahoning and Trumbull counties at more than $115 million
• Reconstructing portions of I-76 and I-77 in Summit County at nearly $100 million
• Reconstructing parts of I-75 at I-280 and I-475 in northwest Ohio at more than $250 million
• Widening and reconstructing the I-71/I-70 interchange in Franklin County for more than $325 million
• Construction of a new interchange on I-71 at MLK Boulevard in Hamilton County for $107 million
These are just a few examples of the more than 40 major new capacity projects recently announced by Gov. Kasich. All of them will improve Ohio’s transportation system. Together, the projects should create business and jobs. The improvements are designed to improve safety and help reduce congestion. This is the largest investment in the transportation system Ohio has ever made. Many of these projects would wait for decades to get built, or not get built at all. The projects are critical to the state’s recovering economy and will help Ohio continue to create and maintain jobs.
This article was writen by Jerry Wray. Wray is the director of the Ohio Department of Transportation