The Ohio Department of Transportation needs another $1.6 billion to keep current construction projects going. Its current budget can only cover “preservation and maintenance” of current roadways, according to Steve Faulkner, spokesman for ODOT.
Major new projects, those totaling $12 million or more, are in a holding pattern without additional funds.
And speaking of holding it, visitors may be staring at advertisements when they do their business in Ohio rest areas in the future. Last year, Ohio received legislative approval to pursue public-private partnerships. The Department is currently looking at “innovative” ways to drum up more dollars by selling advertising at interstate rest areas, bridges, interchanges and “unique features” such as well-known curves and stretches of highways.
“We’ve moved to the forefront of being innovative and pursuing solutions,” Faulkner said.
ODOT is seeking RFPs (Requests for Proposal) for project administrators for its 45 interstate rest areas; turning 5 of its 59 non-interstate rest areas into commercial travel plazas; and for bridges, interchanges and unique features. ODOT hopes to have someone in place by the end of the year, Faulkner told Land Line.
The project administrators will be responsible for coming up with different ways to get sponsorships and advertising dollars to these areas. That could include electronic signage, billboards inside restroom facilities, and coupons and brochures from local businesses. The possibilities are endless.
Rest area sponsors, in addition to their fees, will be responsible for mowing, building upkeep, and maintenance of the land and facilities. They get to put up a sign for their money.
The annual cost of maintaining the state’s 104 rest areas runs about $50 million. “It’s going to be huge for the state. We believe we can completely offset $50 million to the state of Ohio,” Faulkner said regarding raising additional funds via sponsorships.