The Ohio Turnpike will not be handed over to private investors, at least not any time soon.
That was the announcement today from Gov. John Kasich who says a just-completed study shows that the state can issue bonds to generate $3 billion dollars to pay for rebuilding the turnpike and funding other road projects.
Ohio DOT’s Jim Riley, who helped put the study together, says it can all be done without big toll increases.
“Tolls will never outpace inflation,” he told OOIDA’s Sirius XM radio show “Land Line Now.”
“As a matter of fact, tolls will be frozen for local auto trips that use E-ZPass and the plan is that they would never outpace inflation. In fact, they’ll be less than the toll increases that we’ve seen over the last 20 years for both cars and trucks,” Riley said.
The idea of privatizing the turnpike drew strong opposition in Ohio, especially from cities located along the 240-mile route.
OOIDA has nearly 7,400 members in the state of Ohio and thousands more that use the turnpike daily. OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said the Association applauds the governor’s decision not to pursue the leasing of the turnpike.
“His decision is certainly in the interest of the state and users of the turnpike,” Spencer said. “However, if the governor has any hope of keeping his promise of toll rate increases no higher than inflation, it will be critical that the road improvements under consideration be tied closely to the turnpike and encourage greater utilization of the route.”
Meanwhile, Gov. Kasich and the head of the state DOT set off on a two-day state tour to explain the plan to use bonds to keep the turnpike publically owned and operated.
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