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.

Northeast Ohio Medical University

NOCHE

Don Drumm Studios


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

Will Ohio's marijuana initiative follow casinos' lead?
We just ask to have marijuana legalized and here comes some nimrod trying to rob us of our rights and make us buy it from some legalized new type DRUG DEALER th...

Fancy dinners from humble beginnings at The Blue Door
Grandma of Chris Miller moved to Florida in a retirement community but I sure miss the Falls and the Blue Door, and the fine service and the true friendship of ...

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

A guide for gift-shopping for older Ohians
I'll never be to old for peanut brittle.

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

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