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Portsmouth Bypass work set to begin next year

CLEVELAND — Gov. John R. Kasich unveiled Monday a plan for improving Ohio’s transportation system with a $3 billion investment in infrastructure over the next several years.

Kasich’s Jobs and Transportation plan is touted as allowing the state to eliminate decades long delays on some 41 new construction projects now slated to begin construction as soon as next year in some cases. Several projects from Columbus to Appalachia will see long delays wiped out.

“By thinking outside the box we’re attacking Ohio’s highway budget deficit without a tax increase and keeping Ohio’s highways in top condition,” Kasich said. “Our agriculture, manufacturing and logistics industries, as well as so many others, depend on our world class highway system for their success and the $3 billion in new funds made possible from our plan keeps them moving so Ohio’s economic recovery can keep moving.”

Kasich’s plan uses money from the Ohio Turnpike to help build many new projects in northern Ohio and will allow many other projects to proceed much earlier than anticipated. Other central and southeast Ohio projects getting Kasich’s green light include:

• Building a new highway bypassing the city of Portsmouth in Scioto County ($440 million and project will remain on scheduled to begin as early as 2014)

• Reconstructing the interchange at I-270 and U.S. Route 33 in Franklin County ($93.8 million, 12-year delay eliminated)

• Adding a new interchange on U.S. 33 in Carroll at Winchester Rd. in Fairfield County ($48.7 million, 12-year delay eliminated)

Kasich’s recommendations await a vote by the state’s independent Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) which is slated for Thursday, July 25. The TRAC was established in 1997 to provide guidance to the state for reviewing and approving ODOT’s largest construction projects.

Some funds for the Jobs and Transportation plan were made possible by an innovative plan to issue bonds backed by Turnpike toll revenue dedicated exclusively to northern Ohio. The plan helps fill ODOT’s budget deficit without raising taxes that would kill jobs.