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Hands off the Ohio Turnpike

Published: Sun, December 12, 2010 @ 12:00 a.m.

Hands off the Ohio Turnpike

The question of privatizing the Ohio Turnpike wasn’t even an issue in the 2010 gubernatorial race between Incumbent Ted Strickland, a Democrat, and Republican challenger John Kasich. The question was raised in July while Kasich was campaigning with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, who sold a 75-year lease on the 157-mile Indiana turnpike to a consortium of foreign investors for $3.8 billion. Both Kasich and Strickland declared that they had no intention of privatizing the turnpike.

That was then; this is now. And now that he’s been elected, Kasich is acknowledging that his staff is looking at leasing Ohio’s 241-mile turnpike to private interests. He stipulates that the timing might not be right, but “we definitely haven’t taken it off the table.”

Well, it should be taken off the table, especially by a self-described conservative, because selling (or leasing, or rebranding) a public asset such as the Ohio Turnpike is one of the least conservative things any politician could do.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul

Putting operation of the turnpike into private hands in exchange for an up-front payment of millions of dollars that will be used to balance the budget or finance other capital improvement projects is about as close as it gets to theft of a public asset.

The turnpike was built with bonds that were repaid over decades by users of the road exclusively, not through general tax revenue. Some of the land on which the road was built was taken by the government through eminent domain.

Taking such an asset and turning its operation over to a for-profit corporation in order to fill a budget hole is at best irresponsible.

The turnpike is a valuable asset for economic development and it has historically been well managed. As the Turnpike Commission’s Web site notes, since the toll road opened in 1955, the Consumer Price Index has increased more than 6.5 times, but Ohio Turnpike tolls for passenger cars increased by less than 2.5 times.

Would any lease the state negotiated contain a provision that the increase in tolls over the next half century would be kept to less than half the CPI? Obviously the lease would not assure that all of the tolls would go toward upkeep and improvement of the road, since the new operators would be duty bound to provide a profit for their investors.

Selling assets such as the turnpike are get-rich-quick schemes for the seller and get-rich-over-time propositions for the buyer. The users are the losers.


11970mach1(1005 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Chicken Little, be careful, the sky is falling!!
Just because this has worked in other states, means it is IMPOSSIBLE for it to work in Ohio!

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21970mach1(1005 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

Oh wait, now I get it. Vndy is pouting over the rail system not happening, so anything that makes the turnpike more efficient, even if it means fewer got employees, is VERBOTTEN.

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3UnionForever(1470 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

John Kasich has Ohio headed in the right direction with his ideas like leasing the turnpike and eliminating the $400M Slow Speed Train to Nowhere along with his oppositon of paying union-scale prevailing wages on public job sites, doesn't think public employees should have the right to strike and should be fired if they do, and opposes using binding arbitration to resolve contract disputes involving police officers, firefighters, and all public employees. Ending BIG Government that cuts taxes and spending in Ohio is a good thing!

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4kw27(20 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I think the Turnpike commission does a great job taking care of the turnpike. There is no way of knowing that privatizing will make it more efficient. It also doesnt mean fewer employees. Two things for sure is steps would be taken to make a PROFIT and it will not be in the shape it is in now when the lease would be up.
Take a drive on the Indiana Turnpike!

.....But motorists on the 157-mile Indiana Toll Road have noticed one big difference since it came into private hands: They are paying higher tolls for the first time since 1985.
Fees for cash-paying car motorists who drive the whole road nearly doubled recently. Truckers pay even more. Toll rates, which the state partially regulates, are expected to double again within 10 years.

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5Stan(9923 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

First it was deemed that the Ohio Turnpike would be a free road when the bonds were paid off . Now that didn't happen . The cash cow was retained . Once again the greed shows its ugly head and a sale is proposed . Government gets a fist full of cash for today and the people pay the second wave of bondage in higher usage fees to foreign interests .

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6Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

John Kasich lied again . Good idea or not he lied. He has lost 16000 jobs lied about the turnpike and he is not even in office. Hang on for the ride it is going to be fun Ohio NOT!!!!

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7MLC75(529 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

I think we have gone from bad to worse.Hopefully Kasich doesn't do too much damage ,before he can be voted out of office,next time around.

I think it will be a big mistake,to sell the turnpike.It is well maintained now,I don't see that happening if sold.

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8Traveler(606 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

if we lease out the turnpike it shouldn't be for long contracts 10 years max that way if the people of ohio are unhappy with the leasing company performance we can take it back

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9Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

HE lied

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10ajthompson03(1 comment)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

It is funny, John Kasich will not allow for a passenger train system but expects the working man to pay mass fees just to get to work. Wow, i see...

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11fd6636(255 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

sure, give money away, then stick it to cops and fireman who serve the public, now give up the turnpike??? why. because public employees paid by the state run it??? this is the SAME guy who's company he worked for took millions in gov't hand outs, then stuck it to us by accepting HUGE bonus at the expence of us, the STUPID public, and by the way, the bail out came with money paid in taxes by the same public workers he is trying to screw, so we as ohioans reap what we sow by puting a emperor in office. you think its great what he is proposing? wait till it affects YOU!!!

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12unhappyvoter1(87 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

privatize everything,....................its headed that way.

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13bmanresident(597 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

@ unhappyvoter... That's really not a bad idea, let's privatize the police department, you need help from them, then you gotta pay, wait Mexico is already like that. But privatization is not all bad. Anyone use UPS lately? They do it way better than the Post Office.

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14Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

UPS cost more to ship boxes . UPS does not deliver mail . The UPS drivers do not watch for things in the neighborhood like your mail man / woman do . To compare the USPS and UPS is like apples and oranges .But they do a GREAT job at what they do .And all the people who work for them that I have meet have been super and had great attitudes. But so are the people I do business with at USPS.I think we need both

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15Freeatlast(1991 comments)posted 3 years, 9 months ago

One thing they can not do is ship the turnpike out of of country. But They can turn it over to foreign countries like some states have done . Let them eat cake

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