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.

Don Drumm Studios

Akron General

Knight Foundation


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

From warehouse to writer: Terry Pluto's Thanksgiving thank you
Dear Terry: On my 8th cup of coffee trying to get Thanksgiving "Brunch" done ahead of time because I work nights. However, I just had to stop to contact yo...

The first big private gift comes in for the pro football HOF project
The HOF has needed a shot in the arm for many years and this project will go a long way to getting the attraction the attention it deserves (next: upgrad...

Environmental study nears completion in East Liverpool
Twenty years ago my twin sister and I protested the building and operation of the WTI facility citing several studies that indicated the risk of cancer due to ...

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

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