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Cashing in on Ohio’s turnpike



Published: Sun, October 7, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

Cashing in on Ohio’s turnpike

It should come as a surprise to no one that Gov. John Kasich appears to be back on track in his effort to convert the Ohio Turnpike into the administration’s cash cow.

He’s hit some speed bumps along the way — such as when he was challenged for trying to use federal highway money to pay for a feasibility study on leasing the turnpike — but that’s only slowed him down.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that during a visit by Kasich to Cleveland last week, he talked about the options for leveraging the turnpike’s value into a $1 billion slush fund. Clearly the option of allowing the Turnpike Commission to continue operating the 241-mile highway as it has for almost 60 years is not on Kasich’s agenda.

who is paying the piper?

The turnpike was built and maintained by its customers, and that’s the way it should remain. Tolls pay for upkeep and improvements in the road. What Kasich would do is lease the turnpike to a private operator or mortgage the turnpike and use the proceeds — not for the turnpike but for other highway projects.

And somehow this scheme is said to represent a conservative political principle. You can call it redistribution of wealth — from tollpayers to non-tollpayers. Or you can call it robbing Peter to pay Paul. But you can’t call it conservative — at least not honestly.


Comments

1chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Did Governor Kasich use the term "slush fund" to describe the effect of leveraging a publically owned asset fo a privately managed use? Said proceeds will be used for education and infrastructure repais across the entire state and not just a portion.

I checked the PD's website and didn't see any quote with such language. Or is this the Vindy editorial board spin?

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2chuck_carney(499 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Wan't it Pres. Obama and the now Governor of Mass who said "Words, just words!" One word can color the tone of an article and reveal the writer's true bias.

By the way who raided the Ohio Tobacco Settlement Fund? Oh, that's right, it was ex-Gov Ted Strickland. I believe he was a Democrat. At least the voters had common sense by not keeping him in office.

Thanks for all the BS, NoBS

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3Briscoe(14 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Those that oppose leasing the turnpike wrongly assume that such an arrangement will result in these roads not being maintained properly. Such assumption is incorrect - the maintenance can be dictated in the contract and the company that leases it would be monitored to confirm it abides by the maintenance standards. Likewise, toll pricing for the duration of the lease could also be established such as setting tolls to increase no more than the rate of inflation. With that all in place, the private company would pay the state an annual lease fee that would be guaranteed income because the state would no longer have any expenses. Sure, it's likely that overpaid toll workers would be replaced by lesser paid individuals and/or machines. But so would pet projects like the boondoggle multimillion dollar service plaza replacement currently underway on I76 near the PA border that is costing tens of millions on a total rebuild when an upgrade and expansion is all that was required. Don't forget, assessing tolls on the turnpike was never intended to be permanent. In the '90's when the turnpike was finally paid for, the commission voted to extend and increase the tolls - a move that secured their cushy appointments that wield great power and influence.

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4eebee(13 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

Does Indiana lease its turnpike? The rest stops are filthy, and supposedly maintained by the businesses that house them.

Use Ohio rest stops before you cross the border!

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5DwightK(1256 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

If it isn't broke, don't fix it. The Ohio pike is one of the best roads you can travel on. Why would anyone mess with that?

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6anothermike(211 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

The Ohio turnpike is already a cash cow.....who are these "billionaires" who are attempting to take it over? Arabs? India? Chinese? No talk of who they are. Our turnpike isn't a convienient store, and you can make all the rules you like, but you can rest assured they will not be followed, and you won't even see a new coat of paint in any Ohio school as a result of it. We've heard these type of stories before, tell Kasich forgeddaboutit.....

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7southsidedave(4780 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

This road was financed with bond debt that was repaid many years ago and should now be used freely...of course that will never happen.

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8jeepers(127 comments)posted 1 year, 11 months ago

NO BS-"don't bring up previous admin." OK Do not bitch and moan about Bush anymore. As usual-2 sets of rules for you.

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9JDV(1 comment)posted 1 year, 10 months ago

A couple of readers mentioned that the construction bonds were paid off 20 years ago...true...and the state legislature allowed the OTC to issue new debt to stay in business...true...but how does that leave Kasich's plan as the only alternative. They're both corrupted.

This is the Interstate Highway system we're talking about. Congress should tell Ohio and every other state that tolls the Interstates to get the hell off the roads altogether. They should be maintained like the rest of the system with the federal gas tax as distributed to the respective state DOTs. These roads should be nobody's cash cow...not for Kasich's friends and not for state legislators who want a job waiting at OTC when they eventually lose re-election.

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