Turnpike plan likely to have local impactPublished 9:26am Thursday, December 20, 2012
Anyone who doesn’t pay attention to politics in Columbus may have overlooked Gov. John Kasich’s recent proposal about the future of the Ohio Turnpike because, on the surface, it doesn’t seem to impact southern Ohio.
But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Kasich’s innovative plan makes a lot of sense and could ultimately be the final final piece of the funding puzzle needed to complete the Tri-State Metro Outerbelt, commonly called the Chesapeake Bypass.
The proposal nixes the long-rumored plan to lease or sell to a private entity the 241-mile turnpike, Ohio’s only toll road, that is travelled by more than 50 million motorists a year.
Under the proposal the state would borrow about $1.5 billion by issuing bonds against the toll revenue and utilizing another $1.5 billion in local and federal funding. These funds would be used for statewide construction projects that are deemed to have a big positive impact.
It should come as no surprise that Republicans in the Legislature have heaped praise on Kasich’s plan while Democrats cry foul. When considered objectively, it certainly looks to be a way to maintain government ownership of the highway system that is important to northern Ohio yet invest significant money into the rest of the state’s infrastructure, something that will be very important for economic development and growth for years to come.
It’s time both political parties get on the bus, so to speak, and drive this proposal forward.