After more than 10 months of careful study and deliberation, the state has decided not to lease the Ohio Turnpike. Instead, the turnpike would issue bonds backed by future toll revenue and use that money to build critical transportation projects mostly in Northern Ohio.
With the acceptance of the Ohio Turnpike Opportunity Analysis, the state of Ohio finds itself with the opportunity to move forward with an innovative program to begin to address the critical infrastructure needs of the state.
In January of this year, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) announced a $1.6 billion budget shortfall. This funding crisis means ODOT had to push back by decades some of the state’s largest, most complex transportation construction projects.
The cause of the problem is simple: the recent economic decline, combined with more fuel efficient vehicles that use less gas, higher gas prices reducing consumption, and inflation driving up project costs, has left Ohio — along with every other state — in a precarious position.
Additionally, the federal and state motor fuel taxes — Ohio’s primary funding source — are not raising as much money as they once did, making it difficult to keep up with the rising costs of construction.
Bonding against future toll revenues can greatly reduce Ohio’s highway budget deficit and dedicate the funds to build these critically important road and bridge projects. By accelerating these projects we protect the thousands of Ohio jobs that depend upon our role as a national leader in logistics and we create thousands of new jobs,” said Gov. John Kasich.
“It’s important to understand that under this program the Ohio Turnpike remains under the full control of the state of Ohio. The program also keeps tolls lower than they likely would have been under a lease program.”
The program calls for freezing some local tolls and limiting future toll increases to less than what they have been in the past. These steps also will ensure that local communities along the Turnpike will not see an increase in traffic since the Turnpike will remain a great value. The Ohio Turnpike Commission will remain intact but there will be better coordination with ODOT to implement efficiencies that save tax dollars that can be devoted to addressing the infrastructure needs.
For more information, visit www.dot.state.oh.us/Pages/Home.aspx.