Toll roads becoming a campaign issue this election season

| 7/14/2006

Toll roads could have a bearing on a number of fall elections.

Whether “fer” or “agin” toll roads, politicians are making their stances on toll roads known heading into the August primary and November general elections.

Consider the state of Ohio , where transportation officials and politicians are considering a deal to lease the Ohio Turnpike to private investors for upward of $6 billion.

Republican nominee for governor, Ken Blackwell, and his Democratic opponent in November, Ted Strickland, are polar opposites on the issue of toll roads.

Blackwell is campaigning on a platform that includes leasing the toll road to make up for funding gaps in the roads budget, similar to what happened in Indiana with the leasing of the Indiana Toll Road .

Strickland criticizes privatization efforts, which he says are akin to “the person in the Old Testament who sold his birthright for a bowl of soup,” according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

In Texas , the Gov. Rick Perry has his hat in the ring for another term, campaigning on the benefits of the Trans-Texas Corridor, a proposed 10-lane superhighway that includes rights-of-way for rail and utility lines.

The TTC would be built by private investors and include toll lanes.

Perry has drawn some opponents out of the woodwork with various stances on the toll-road system, including independent candidates Carole Keeton Strayhorn and Kinky Friedman and Democrat Chris Bell.

“This is a major issue that is going to decide the vote in at least 30 counties,” Keeton, a staunch toll-road opponent, told the Star-Telegram in Fort Worth , TX .

Perhaps the issue of toll roads and privatization could decide a race in your state.

Stay connected to Land Line for the latest information.

– By David Tanner, staff writer