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

Lehmans

The Holden Arboretum


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
Ohio


State panel approves road and bridge project delays
34 road projects put on hold, including a second Innerbelt bridge
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
A transportation agency panel has voted unanimously to push back some major road work projects for years - and in some cases, decades – because there isn’t enough money to finish them. But Ohio Public Radio’s Karen Kasler reports this vote isn’t the final word on the issue.
TRAC votes to delay road projects

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (0:45)


TRAC votes to delay road projects - longer

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:44)


The vote from the nine-member Transportation Review Advisory Council, or TRAC, was unanimous. It approves the draft of a list to delay 34 road work projects across the state for at least a few years for some, but two projects – part of the innerbelt bridge rebuild in downtown Cleveland and an interchange on Route 33 in central Ohio – will have to wait till 2036. ODOT director Jerry Wray says it’s the result of falling gas tax revenues with no new federal funds – while new projects were still being approved. 

“And we haven’t for a number of years said ‘no’ to any of them, so we keep piling on. So you’ve got stagnant funding, inflation, and lots more projects. You don’t have enough money to pay for them. (Kasler: Why didn’t you say ‘no’ a couple years ago if this was in the works?) I wasn’t here a couple of years ago.”

Because road projects take years to develop, design and build, Wray says it’s routine for ODOT to okay projects it doesn’t have the money for at the time it was approved. But Wray says he doesn’t want to be critical of previous panels, saying that they may not have had all the financial information that he’s disclosed to this TRAC group. But House Minority Leader Armond Budish of suburban Cleveland isn’t satisfied with that answer. 

“That doesn’t explain the change in the dollars being spent over the last many years at $250 or $300 million a year for new roads and bridges and all of a sudden there’s a catastrophic fall off in the amount of money to spend. They haven’t explained why.”

Budish says northeast Ohio pays more in gas tax, and isn’t getting a return on that money. And he says he’s still suspicious that the Ohio Turnpike, which runs through northeast Ohio, is a pawn in a money game. 

“The question has to be – are they moving money around in order to cut the construction budget for new roads and bridges to create a crisis to justify their sale of the Turnpike that’s coming up? I don’t know if that’s the case, but we’ve asked a lot of questions, and so far have not gotten answers.”

Wray says the ODOT’s financial situation would be the same whether the Turnpike was available to be leased or not. But Wray says ODOT will do what it can to find more money to get projects back on the schedule. One idea, he says, is to privatize rest areas alongside Ohio’s highways, which currently cost the state about 40 million dollars a year to maintain. 

“My vision is that we would literally bulldoze them, what’s currently there, have so many acres of land available and we would have the private sector come in and put their stores in. And we would have requirements – they would have to have restrooms, they have mow, they have to take care of things, but we are trying to turn what is currently an expense into a revenue.”

Wray says the state will also likely look at other ideas, such as fees on trucks and license plates. But Wray says one thing is off the table. 
“Nobody’s interested in raising the gas tax, and from what I can tell that includes not only at the state level or appears to be at the federal level.

And Wray says the hope is that ODOT can solve this internally, and not raise the money from taxpayers and drivers. And there’s another chance for those who are unhappy about the delays to be heard. ODOT has opened up a 45 day public comment period. It’s accepting written comments at the TRAC website at ODOT’s Columbus office on West Broad Street. And the agency may also hold public hearings before a final vote later this year.

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

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


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

Lordstown GM plant plans to install 8,500 solar panels
How much will this solar array cost? How is it being funded, and who is really paying for it? How much real useful electricity will it actually produce in MEh p...

Local Ebola concerns cause officials to pay more attention to West Africa
I have a better idea, let's secure our borders and spend those billions of dollars on our own first.

HUD and Cuyahoga Land Bank extend a housing deal for another year
Need to sale lot, and would like to know how to contact someone to see if they may be interested in the property that sat between two lots. If you can give me...

Akron Beacon Journal details abuse claims against televangelist Angley
In the early 90's I went forth for pray. And the man was anointed by the hand of God. Just a fact I will never forget

Lawmaker questions why a million voters didn't get absentee applications
He's a damn lie! I vote n all elections. I missed 1. Haven't gotten my absentee ballot and their making it hard to get one.

Thirsty Dog Brewery warns it might have to leave Akron
Why is it the city's responsibility to find this guy a location? There are a hundred realestate companies that could help him.

Kent State sends home three after contact with second Ebola-stricken nurse
Why weren't all health workers who were around Duncan quaranteened for 21 days and tested for Ebola? That's a no-brainer. Why was Vinson allowed to travel right...

New book says Willoughby Coal is haunted...and that's good for business
Would love to see a series of books that would just thrill me. I cannot wait to visit some of the locations. And revisit some of the locations I have already vi...

Cleveland Indians to continue with 'dynamic pricing'
pricing is too high for a family as well as people like me who are on a fixed income. Bleacher seats are cheaper but concessions are rediculous.

Kasich talks about faith, drugs and education -- but never FitzGerald
The idea that you can learn more by talking to a 90 year old person than from a history book is just another example of how the GOP hates education and knowledg...

Copyright © 2014 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