Gov. John R. Kasich recently embarked on a two-day state tour as he, Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Jerry Wray, Ohio Turnpike Director Rick Hodges and others unveil a first-of-its-kind plan to generate approximately $3 billion for highway road construction without leasing the Ohio Turnpike and without Turnpike employee layoffs.
The Ohio Jobs and Transportation Plan would generate $1.5 billion in new funds for Ohio highways from bonds issued by the Ohio Turnpike Commission and backed by future toll revenues.
Up to an additional $1.5 billion could be generated from matching local and federal funds coming to a combined total of approximately $3 billion for Ohio’s major highway construction projects.
“This plan just makes sense as we continue Ohio’s economic resurgence, grow jobs and make our state prosperous once again,” Kasich said. “Billions of dollars in new highway funds further strengthens Ohio’s jobs-friendly climate and keeps our state moving by delivering more projects faster.”
“Bonding against future Turnpike revenue generates enough money to erase our highway budget deficit,” Wray said. “Combined with ODOT’s work to reduce our cost of doing business and improve service to the state’s motoring public, this plan puts the resources we need into our major construction budget.”
Details of the Ohio Jobs and Transportation Plan include:
• No long-term, private lease;
• A continued public, independent Turnpike with expanded authority and renamed the “Ohio Turnpike and Infrastructure Commission”;
• More than 90 percent of new bond money will go directly to northern Ohio highway projects, including the Turnpike itself;
• Rebuilding the Ohio Turnpike will occur decades sooner than planned;
• Tolls for local passenger trips paid with an EZ Pass are frozen for 10 years;
• All other toll rates are capped at inflation, which is significantly less than historic toll increases;
• No Turnpike employee lay-offs are anticipated.
“Maintaining public control and an independent Turnpike Commission helps keep tolls low and workers on the job,” Hodges said. “Plus, with this new plan we can get to work rebuilding the entire Turnpike decades sooner than we once had planned.”
ODOT has cut the agency’s $1.6 billion highway budget deficit by $400 million thanks to new savings and operational efficiencies, but more money and more innovation is needed.
Money generated from the Ohio Jobs and Transportation Plan will help fill budget deficit without raising taxes that would kill jobs. The launch of the new plan concludes a year-long study of options for better using the revenue generated by the Ohio Turnpike.