The Ohio Department of Transportation will delay release of a study after July 17 town hall meeting on leasing or privatizing the Ohio Turnpike.
In a release from Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald Thursday afternoon, it states that "at the July 17 Town Hall meeting, an ODOT spokesman either denied or was unaware of the ODOT release announcing the July 1 completion date, which has added to the confusion about the expected date of completion for the study."
Read the November 22 ODOT release
FitzGerald said, "This is exactly the kind of poor communication that results from a lack of community input and transparency. We feared the information was being withheld from taxpayers, or changes were being made without their knowledge. We believe our town hall meetings are providing the kind of transparency the public deserves."
Lorain County Commissioner Ted Kalo said, "The public has provided the significant funding for the turnpike, and has a vested interest in its future. The public's response at the Town Hall was clear. The study's release must be timely and transparent."
Back in November, the Ohio Office of Budget and Management and Ohio Department of Transportation announced in a release that they have chosen KPMG, LLP to advise Ohio as it considers ways to possibly use funds from the Ohio Turnpike to cope with shrinking resources to maintain and expand Ohio's highways.
The release ended with: KPMG will have until July 1, 2012 to make recommendations to the State.
Given the importance of Ohio's manufacturing and agriculture sectors to job creation, sustaining adequate funding for the roads that keep these sectors moving is essential.
"Our highway system is the lifeline for Ohio's manufacturing and agricultural jobs," said ODOT Director Jerry Wray said, back in November.
"But the cost of repairing and expanding Ohio's highways is outpacing funding, while the availability of federal highway funds is increasingly unpredictable. Without new funds, highway projects we thought would start in the next few years could be pushed off for two decades. Ohio can't let that happen. We must be innovative about meeting our highway needs. The Turnpike is a hugely valuable untapped asset, and while it's the property of Ohio and would never be sold, there are different ways that it could be leveraged to generate needed funds, so our highways can keep supporting job creation and economic growth."
KPMG was selected from a list of 14 original applicants and five short-listed applicants.
KPMG will help Ohio consider all aspects of the Turnpike to analyze various options, determine which course of action is in the best interest of Ohioans and make recommendations on how to proceed.
At the time, Wray commented that the final recommendation could be anything from leaving the Turnpike in its current form; to moving it under ODOT; to leasing it to a private operator; to options Ohio perhaps hasn't yet considered.