By Marc Kovac
A consumer-advocacy group concerned about the potential privatization of the Ohio Turnpike wants Gov. John Kasich’s administration to answer a series of questions before making such a decision.
“We are very wary, because we have seen situations in other states [that have privatized their turnpikes] where it very much was not in the public interest at all,” said Tabitha Woodruff, an advocate for Ohio Public Interest Research Group, or PIRG. “We’re very skeptical of any plan that might move forward.”
Kasich and other state officials have long discussed the possibility of leasing the Ohio Turnpike as a means for providing funding for repair, maintenance and new road construction. The governor has said at least half of the proceeds from any such transaction should go to road and bridge projects north of U.S. Highway 30, as well as for covering the costs of projects along the turnpike and for public transit systems.
Kasich also has said repeatedly he will not move forward with the privatization if it isn’t in the best interest of the state.
Before the end of the year, the administration is expected to unveil the results of a multimillion-dollar study outlining potential options.
“What we know right now is that Ohio’s transportation budget shortfall is in the billions,” Steve Faulkner, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Transportation, said in a released statement. “We cannot afford to bury our head in the sand and hope that the problem magically solves itself. Instead, we must identify and seek out alternative funding solutions that allow us to build our infrastructure, improve our economy and create jobs.”