By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor
The U.S. DOT has revoked federal funds that Ohio officials were using to study a privatization deal involving the state Turnpike. Five U.S. representatives from the Buckeye State say the action is the direct result of concerns they raised in a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood earlier in the week.
Department of Transportation officials informed the delegation – U.S. Reps. Tim Ryan, Marcy Kaptur, Dennis Kucinich, Marcia Fudge and Betty Sutton, along with U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown – of the action during a conference call on Friday, Oct. 7.
“It’s disappointing that during this rush to privatize the Turnpike, the state attempted to misuse these federal funds for a plan that could potentially cost drivers through significantly increased tolls, threaten the job security of over 1,000 Ohioans, and drive up costs for local governments through increased maintenance costs for local roads. Federal money should be used to create jobs, not eliminate them,” Rep. Ryan said in a statement following the call.
“The Ohio Turnpike is a high-quality road in good financial health, has bipartisan support to remain in its current form, and serves as a vital business asset to ship goods all across this country. Any efforts to sell the Ohio Turnpike are misguided, and I plan to continue to fight to protect the Turnpike in the future. I thank the Department of Transportation for their timely response to our letter. ”
The DOT’s action does not derail the proposal. Potential bidders on a long-term lease or sale of the Turnpike are drafting their proposals to meet a November deadline issued by the state.
Earlier this year, Gov. John Kasich included a possible lease or sale of the Ohio Turnpike to private investors as part of his state budget.
OOIDA opposes the lease or sale of public infrastructure to private investors.
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