AASHTO Journal, 14 December 2012
A plan to raise billions of dollars through bonds issued by Ohio’s turnpike commission and backed by future toll revenues was unveiled Thursday by Ohio Department of Transportation Director Jerry Wray, Governor John Kasich, and Ohio Turnpike Director Rick Hodges.
The plan, officially titled the Ohio Jobs and Transportation Plan, would allow the state to raise an additional $1.5 billion to fund transportation projects across the state from bonds issued by the Ohio Turnpike Commission, which would then be backed by future toll revenue. Building on that funding, another $1.5 billion could come through local and federal matching of that newly generated funding.
“Bonding against future turnpike revenue generates enough money to erase our highway budget deficit,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray in a statement. “Combined with ODOT’s work to reduce our cost of doing business and improve service to the state’s motoring public, this plan puts the resources we need into our major construction budget.”
According to Ohio officials, their plan is a viable solution to ODOT’s budget deficit (originally $1.6 billion), which has already been cut by $400 million through department efficiencies (see related AASHTO Journal stories: bit.ly/ODOTefficient, bit.ly/ODOTelectric, and bit.ly/ODOTsalt). The new plan to raise money through bonds would allow ODOT to generate necessary transportation funding while also saving state transportation jobs, which were in danger due to the deficit and the state’s reliance on the gas tax to bring in transportation dollars. The plan also states that 90 percent of the new bond money will go directly to northern Ohio highway projects, such as the turnpike itself, which means the Ohio Turnpike will be rebuilt decades sooner than the state had projected.
“This plan just makes sense as we continue Ohio’s economic resurgence, grow jobs, and make our state prosperous once again,” said Kasich. “Billions of dollars in new highway funds further strengthens Ohio’s jobs-friendly climate and keeps our state moving by delivering more projects faster.”
The Ohio Jobs and Transportation Plan is available online at bit.ly/ODOTplan.