News Home
Quick Bites
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
On AirNewsClassical
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.


Akron Children's Hospital


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )

Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Government and Politics

ODOT running on empty
Ohio Dept. of Transportation is overcommitted by billions of dollars and will delay projects for decades

Karen Kasler
In The Region:

Ohio’s transportation experts are saying the news that ODOT is broke was no secret, but the decision to delay some projects is a big deal.

Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler reports now the discussion moves to how to fix the problem – and find more money.

Karen Kasler - ODOT is broke

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:18)

ODOT director Jerry Wray says ODOT is running on empty financially, and will have to delay some major construction projects – pushing back some of the biggest ones for as long as two decades.

The crisis comes from falling gas tax revenue, rising construction costs, and the numbers of so-called mega projects costing over $100 million. Wray says no current projects have been cancelled, even though the department is overcommitted by billions of dollars to projects already in process.
“That is not a priority list, that’s not a list where we’re picking one project over another. It’s a funding list. And by that I mean – we look at the development of the project and the controlling factor is when would we have enough money based on our current revenue to sell it and pay for it.”

This news wasn’t any surprise to a think tank that studies transportation issues in Ohio.
“We’ve been talking about this since October of 2005.”

Gene Krebs is a former state representative and now heads Greater Ohio. He estimated a nearly $4 billion deficit for ODOT by 2017. ODOT is funded by state and federal gas taxes. By his math, factoring in standards for more efficient cars and inflation, Krebs says ODOT will lose 7% of its purchasing power every year – meaning if the solution were to hike the gas tax, it would have to go up two cents every year.

“By the way that’s two pennies a year forever. If you want to go ahead and start fixing all of our crumbling bridges and the backlog, that’s nine pennies a year for the very long foreseeable future. So we’re not going to be able to tax our way out of this.”

Wray admits there isn’t much of an appetite to raise the gas tax – US Senator George Voinovich talked about that his way out of office in 2010, and was criticized for it. Wray says that means other solutions – including privatization.

“We’re interested in privatizing some of our rest areas – that way we can turn something that is currently costing us money perhaps into revenue. Obviously we’re considering what we might be able to do to leverage the turnpike.”

And Wray says ODOT will be – using his word – aggressive – in investigating public-private partnerships. Krebs says he’s confident the state won’t rush into a turnpike deal just to deal with the current financial crisis, but he’s pleased to hear the discussion on what to do start now, because otherwise, the future is bleak.
“It’s only going to get worse. As bad as you think this is now – and we’ve been saying this also since 2005 – as people trade in Hummers for Hondas, it’s going to simply accelerate.”

And Krebs notes advances touted by the auto industry and embraced by drivers – such as all-electric vehicles and those which run on compressed natural gas – also chip away at the financial solvency of the agency that fixes and builds the roads those cars run on.

Add Your Comment


E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook

Stories with Recent Comments

Ottawa County Commissioner sworn in as new house member
Congratulations on your new appointment to the Ohio House. I'm certain you will do an outstanding job in your new role representing our district. When you have...

Holden Arboretum opens a new canopy walk and emergent tower
Visited the Holden Arboretum today to witness the incredible work you did constructing the tower and bridges.WOW! Very impressed. Knew the build had to be great...

Local club works to bring back the once-prevalent American elm
I would love to help! Where would I get some of the new Strain so I could plant them?

Four Geauga school districts consider consolidating on the Kent State campus
Berkshire was smart to merge with Ledgemont because it had shrinking enrollment and excess capacity at its high school. Now that Cardinal is dragging its feet ...

Ohio Rep. John Boccieri sworn into office and hopes to look for 'middle ground' with colleagues
Welcome back to the Statehouse, John. You are a terrific representative in the truest sense always representing the people's voice in teh district you serve. ...

Lawmakers call for indefinite freeze on Green Energy standards
It's a shame the Hudson Rep. Chooses to mimic the words of the extreme right senator on his way out to join ALEC when we know the Pope was just here because of...

Youngstown Schools file suit against the Ohio Department of Education to stop the implementation of an academic distress commission
Voters should ask WHY this plan was rushed into law under the cover of darkness. What clues point to the beneficiaries of this plan? Both Patrick O'Donnell of...

More join the battle against Ohio's current forfeiture laws
NOT TRUE IN OHIO! ! My cousin's 8 rental houses were siezed in the early 2000s. He was a decorated Cleveland Police officer and detective (now retired). His dis...

Great Lakes conference considers a range of threats
Your article states "Studies discovered over half of all PAHs found in the Great Lakes region come from a single source: Coal tar sealants.". I'm curious to whi...

Copyright © 2015 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University