Jack Marchbanks

The slowdown of the economy because of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on traffic and transit. And even though the state’s gas tax that funds road construction went up by 10.5 cents a gallon last July, the Ohio Department of Transportation is bracing for a big hit. 

photo of Jack Marchbanks
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The head of the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) said the state is at a crossroads with policy on how to move people and products around safely and efficiently.

ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks says the 10.5 cent per gallon state gas tax increase will send an additional $370 million this year to local governments, and will help with 150 projects split in urban, suburban and rural areas. But that gas tax hike is just part of a change that’s coming, because it’s estimated that nearly all vehicles on the roads will be electric 25 years from now.

Photo of a road sign with a christmas story reference on it, reading "Life is fra-gee-lay, drive safe."
Ohio Department of Transportation / State of Ohio

If you’ve driven Ohio’s roads lately, you’ve probably noticed the big signs with cheeky sayings directed at drivers.

One sign reminds drivers life is “fra-gee-lay (fragile),” a reference to the movie, “A Christmas Story.” 

Another tells drivers to stay in the right lane unless passing because Santa needs the left lane.

Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jack Marchbanks said there’s a simple reason for these signs. 

“It might seem flip but we have found that tying these messages to pop culture references makes people remember them.” Marchbanks said.

gas pump prices
ROSCHETZKY PHOTOGRAPHY / SHUTTERSTOCK

Ohio’s 10.5 cent gas tax increase from the state’s transportation budget has been in place for four months. And the director of the Ohio Department of Transportation says the money his agency fought lawmakers to get is already making a difference.

Jack Marchbanks says ODOT is on solid financial ground for the first time in years. The gas tax hike will bring in $820 million this fiscal year, and $3.2 billion over the next four years. But Marchbanks says the agency didn’t overshoot in asking for nearly twice that when it first proposed the gas tax increase.

Ohio's first-ever 'smart lane' has opened. The smart lane is meant to reduce traffic congestion heading out of downtown on eastbound Interstate 670.

photo of Jack Marchbanks
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The director of the Ohio Department of Transportation is not pleased with the decision by the House Finance Committee to cut Gov. Mike DeWine’s proposed 18 cent gas tax increase down to just under 11 cents. But he’s holding out hope. 

ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said the vote to cut the increase on gasoline from 18 cents per gallon to 10.7 cents and to make the increase on diesel fuel 20 cents is disappointing.

a photo of gas pumps
ROSCHETZKY PHOTOGRAPHY / SHUTTERSTOCK

Gov. Mike DeWine is proposing an 18-cent hike to the gas tax in order to avoid what he’s calling an impending crisis with Ohio’s roads and bridges. There’s a provision in DeWine’s plan that is drawing concerns from lawmakers.

DeWine’s plan would take Ohio’s gas tax from 28 cents a gallon to 46 cents a gallon. The Ohio Department of Transportation says that would generate $1.2 billion next year.

But the plan also calls for increasing the gas tax every year based on inflation.

photo of Mike DeWine
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Gov. Mike DeWine will ask lawmakers this week to raise the state’s 28 cent a gallon gas tax, a recommendation from a committee he appointed. That increase would patch a hole of more than a billion dollars in the Ohio Department of Transportation’s budget. But DeWine won’t yet get specific on what he’ll ask for.

photo of Jack Marchbanks
ANDY CHOW / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

Ohio’s top transportation official told state lawmakers that his agency is facing a billion-dollar shortfall, and that drivers could face serious dangers on roads and bridges. His testimony comes in advance of a report expected Friday that’s likely to recommend a gas tax increase.

Ohio Department of Transportation director Jack Marchbanks told the House Finance Committee that finding funding for new infrastructure projects and for existing maintenance isn’t a quick fix.

photo of Larry Householder
JO INGLES / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The committee reviewing the financial situation facing the Ohio Department of Transportation heard testimony for a second day today – and is expected to release a report recommending funding solutions very soon. And it seems likely that an increase in the gas tax will be part of it. 

House Speaker Larry Householder (R-Glenford) says he’s all ears when it comes to a possible gas tax.

KAREN KASLER / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

The road ahead is rough for the Ohio Department of Transportation, according to the agency’s director. He spoke before a panel that will recommend to Gov. Mike DeWine how to fund major new road construction, telling them that money is also running out for maintenance of existing infrastructure.

ODOT Director Jack Marchbanks said 15 years of flat revenues from the gas tax, inflation in highway construction costs and huge debt payments have driven the agency into jeopardy.

“It is a grim financial situation. It is also a dangerous one,” Marchbanks said.