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.

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.

Akron Children's Hospital

Greater Akron Chamber


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's plan to close budget gap stalls
Developers have shown interest in buying and managing rest areas.
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 

The Ohio Department of Transportation has been coming up with ideas on how to plug a 1.6 billion dollar hole in its road construction budget. But as Ohio Public Radio's Karen Kasler reports, one of the first steps to do that has stalled.

Click to listen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:25)


ODOT had hailed its plan to allow developers to turn 59 rest areas along state and U.S. routes into full-scale service plaza as a way to save money. In May, ODOT chief of staff Greg Murphy talked about that idea as part of a larger proposal to raise money through sponsorship and naming rights for interstate rest areas, bridges and other facilities and infrastructure.

“We expect to generate millions of dollars in this area,” Murphy says.

It was also hoped the money could go toward pushing forward construction projects delayed by the huge hole in ODOT’s budget. But ODOT Director Jerry Wray noted last month when five rest areas in southeast Ohio were offered up to developers, it didn’t go over well.

“Well, the first thing we did was put out a request for qualifications and we had a considerable amount of interest,” Wray says. “But then when we actually opened the request – or we tried to open the request – we didn’t get any.”

And that’s just fine with those who are opposed to the plan.

Ron Milburn is the vice president of the Associated Food and Petroleum Dealers in Ohio. He speaks for owners of independent gas stations and convenience stores – many of which are along the state routes near the rest areas. 

“No consideration is being given whatsoever to the harm that will bring to them financially by putting the rest areas, upgrading the rest area facilities,” Milburn says.

Milburn says if the non-interstate rest areas are eventually turned into service plazas by developers, he wants ODOT to set up a fund to help the owners of nearby retail establishments that would lose business to them. Bob Valentine is a member of the city council in Ashland, and he worries a big developer could take business away from local business owners.  And he says drivers would pay for the convenience of stopping at a service plaza instead of a rest area.  

“When you stop at a rest area, the rest area is clean, it’s secure, you’re comfortable going in there, you don’t have to buy anything. But you start privatizing, you know you feel like you should buy something because you’re going to go in and use their restroom,” Valentine says.

Valentine is also an ODOT bridge inspector, and a member of the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association. And Valentine says he’s concerned that the state would never get back control over rest areas if it allows developers to privatize them, and he says the deals would bring in only one-time money. But ODOT has said it could save up to 50 million dollars a year on the costs of maintaining the rest areas if they are turned over to developers. And AAA Ohio, an organization that lobbies for drivers, supports the plan. 

“We feel that funding is scarce for our roadways around Ohio, and anything that we can do to really expand the services of highway users without increasing taxes really only makes our roads safer and easier to use for all motorists,” Kimberly Schwind of AAA Ohio says. 

ODOT Director Jerry Wray says the agency is going back to the marketplace to find out what went wrong with the proposal and will likely tinker with it – for instance, allowing companies to take just one or two rest areas instead of requiring them to take all of the ones up for development.
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

Could University Circle developments ripple into East Cleveland?
Outsiders are so far off the beaten path and you all need to attend the meeting being held today 8/31/15 Cleveland Public Library, 1:00 PM. http://44112news.co...

ResponsibleOhio leader says the state is trying to set Issue 3 up for failure
Ohio suppose to believe that a group of investors were united under one cause to legalize marijuana.Once legal they all of sudden turn into 10 different compani...

Terry Pluto: U of A's new athletic director has the toughest job in town
It is a hard sell. The Students do not want to go to the football games and they do not want to pay for the program. They have a lot of student loan debt and t...

Akron considering the future of the B.F. Goodrich smokestacks
This BFGoodrich alumna says, "Thank you, Dave Lieberth!"

State creates panel to look at Ohio charter school sponsors
It is more than disturbing that charter schools, which seemed like a good idea years ago, have begun to cripple public school education.

DEVO mural in Akron is now on display downtown
The installation is not at the former site of Chili Dog Mac. CDM was one block north on the other side of Main St.

New report shows growth in white collar jobs for Northeast Ohio
Unfortunately, there are fewer jobs in comparison to the number of professionals applying for them. I have been had a full time job since June 2012. In order to...

Advocacy group: Ohio could lead in clean energy
Ohio Legislators, You are supposed to be our leaders but you're not taking us where we want to go - where we need to go!

Campaign for and against marijuana legalization begins
Cannabis legalization needs to happen as soon as possible! But not if it gives monopolies to a selected few to grow and sell the herb. Responsible Ohio's mono...

Heinen's in downtown Cleveland sponsors a contest for food entrepreneurs
Love that this took place right here! What a way to support local. Thank you Heinens! Love this quote, as a small local biz, I agree, it's big!! "To be a small...

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