Ohio Gov. John Kasich may soon get authority to borrow more than $1 billion against future revenue generated by the Ohio Turnpike.
House Bill 51 is being trucked over to Kasich's office for his signature. Approved by the Ohio General Assembly, it allows the state to borrow $1.5 billion against future turnpike revenue, to raise as much as $3 billion for highway and bridge construction work.
Rick Hodges, Ohio Turnpike Commission executive director, says drivers should not notice anything but better highway conditions.
"As far as the operations of the turnpike are concerned, our customers shouldn't notice a difference. We're still going to plow the snow and pave the roads, and hopefully offer the same level of service," explained Hodges.
According to Hodges, the commission is committed to capping toll increases to the rate of inflation over the next 10 years, and some of that money will go directly back into rebuilding the toll road.
"As a matter of fact, this plan has an injection of $70 million to help rebuild our base and speed up the process," said Hodges.
The legislation requires the majority of funding to be used within 75 miles of the turnpike. Warren Henry, Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments vice president, says this will be a big boost for improving highways across the northern half of the state.
"We're expecting $1.8 billion available and being spent in a six-year period. Without it, we were looking at maybe $580 million of improvements available across all of northern Ohio being spent over a 20-year period," said Henry.
Henry says some major projects in northwest Ohio that have been on hold for funding can now become a reality.
"What we're looking at is the widening of I-75 from I-280 all the way down to Findlay, just adding that capacity that's needed, as well as making improvements on the west side 475 corridor, as well," said Henry.