Ohio Gov. John Kasich has signed into law a two-year, $7.8 billion transportation budget bill.
“Ohio ranks high among all states for the quality and maintenance of our highway infrastructure, and we did it without ever having to raise the gas tax,” Kasich said in prepared remarks.
The main component in the budget provides $6.7 billion to the Ohio Department of Transportation for infrastructure projects and public safety programs. About $124 million is earmarked for local road and bridge improvements.
Counties are permitted to charge an additional $5 plate fee for road and bridge projects without seeking voter approval. Fee increases, however, could be challenged via a ballot referendum.
HB26 also introduces new traffic management techniques that would enhance traffic flow on certain state highways and keep traffic moving during rush hours via variable speed limits and hard shoulder running.
“It has been proven that during high periods of demand on roadways, a temporary, slower speed limit results in a smoother and more even flow of traffic,” ODOT Director Jerry Wray testified during a recent hearing on the bill.
Ohio now uses variable speed limits only in school zones and highway work zones.
The budget authorizes ODOT to set variable speeds on Interstate 90 in Cleveland, I-670 in Columbus, and I-275 in Cincinnati.
A two-year pilot program will be set up in Clinton, Franklin, Lucas, Mahoning, Montgomery and Stark counties to reduce commercial vehicle registrations from $30 to $15.
The Registrar of Motor Vehicles is required to study the effect of lowering the fees.
Also included in the budget is investment in smart corridor technology for self-driving vehicles on select highways. The affected highways will include Interstate 90 in northeast Ohio and Interstate 270 in Columbus.
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