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Government and Politics


Northeast Ohio projects headline hit list
Critics of leasing the Ohio Turnpike say the timing of the the annoucement of a money crisis for ODOT may be suspicious
by WKSU's TIM RUDELL


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Tim Rudell
 
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In The Region:

Ohio’s Department of Transportation says gasoline tax revenue is down, so it does not have hundreds of millions of dollars for dozens of new road and bridge projects. WKSU’s Tim Rudell reports on Northeast Ohio projects that are in jeopardy, and the role the lease of the Ohio Turnpike may be playing in ODOT's thinking.

 

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Improvements at risk

The list of endangered projects include improving I-76 west of Akron, completing the I-90 bridge project in Cleveland and adding lanes to I-80 in Trumbull County.

Timing and other questions 

Critics of this week’s announcement say it smacks of an effort to push Gov. John Kasich’s idea of leasing the Ohio Turnpike to private interests.  Retired Turnpike Director and former Republican State Senator Gary Suhadulnik doesn’t think the timing is a coincidence. Nor, he says, is the fact that ODOT made its announcement in Northeast Ohio, where opposition to the turnpike lease has been strongest.  “Making the announcement up here is, I think, an attempt to soften some of that opposition. ‘Well, maybe it won’t be so bad…alright...we have to have that bridge through downtown...”

Maybe not 

But, former Ohio Department of Transportation Deputy Director Richard Martinko, now part of a University of Toledo study of ODOT’s options, says the announcement may simply reflect reality. “The DOT has been looking at these options for a number of years.  And they they can’t over promise and under deliver."  

 

The state pays for about 20 percent of the major road projects and the federal government pays for the rest. 

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