Ohio transportation budget excludes speed increase, lane restriction

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/8/2015

Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed a two-year, $7 billion transportation budget that includes multiple truck rules. The budget works as a spending blueprint.

The main component in HB53 provides nearly $6 billion to the Ohio Department of Transportation for 1,600 highway construction and maintenance projects. About $600 million is earmarked for local road and bridge improvements.

Rep. Cheryl Grossman, R-Grove City, said the budget deal was imperative to help make sure roads throughout the state are safe and usable.

“The budget has allocated over $7 billion to be used for Ohio’s most necessary infrastructural needs, as well as providing funding to better our safety services,” Grossman said in a news release.

House and Senate lawmakers reached agreement on the final version to send to the governor’s desk after removing provisions that included changes to posted speeds and left lane restrictions on certain roadways.

A conference committee made up of select members from both chambers agreed to remove one provision that called for increasing the speed limit from 70 mph to 75 mph on rural interstates and the Ohio Turnpike.

Instead, Grossman said the speed limit issue will be studied further by a joint legislative task force.

A separate provision removed from the bill called for making the left lane of highways with at least three lanes in the same direction off-limits for all vehicles except to pass or make room for merging vehicles.

Current Ohio law requires any vehicle moving at less than the normal speed of traffic to stay to the right. Exceptions to the lane rule are made for preparing to turn or to overtake and pass another vehicle.

Critics of the speed increase and lane restriction said there were safety and legal concerns with both proposals.

Lawmakers kept a provision in the budget bill to require ODOT to post “Keep right except to pass” signs along affected roadways.

Included in the budget bill are changes that include establishing interstate reciprocity for CDL skills testing and transferring rulemaking authority on towing regulations from the Public Utilities Commission to the Department of Public Safety.

Another provision added to state law prohibits employers from knowingly permitting or authorizing a driver to operate a commercial vehicle without a CDL bearing the proper class or vehicle endorsement or operating a commercial vehicle in violation of a driver’s CDL restrictions.

The changes in the budget bill take effect on July 1.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio, click here.

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