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Gov. Kasich: Ohio Turnpike won't be privatized

7:01 PM, Dec 13, 2012   |    comments
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TOLEDO -- Ohio Governor John Kasich won't lease the Ohio Turnpike but instead proposes raising $1.5 billion in bonds to fund local road projects.

Up to an additional $1.5 billion could be generated by matching local and federal funds.

Kasich announced his plan Thursday in Cleveland, with the city's massive Innerbelt Bridge construction project as a backdrop.

"Your tolls will be lower. Your Turnpike will be stronger, and we'll have a billion dollars to move projects up that will improve our infrastructure," Kasich said, to the applause of supporters, including a number of local Republican mayors.

"Connected to all of that of course is that we're going to be in a position to create, the estimates are now, 65,000 jobs over the course of the next six years," Kasich predicted. 

The decision to not lease or sell the Ohio Turnpike also caps any toll increases on trucks at inflation, and freezes rates for 10 years on local trips paid for with an EZ Pass.

Ninety percent of the proceeds from bond sales, backed by future toll revenues, would go to northern Ohio projects, including the turnpike.

"The bottom line is we're going to have many, many infrastructure projects done in a much shorter period of time than had we done nothing," Kasich said.

Diverting toll revenue off the roadway will require lawmaker approval, but Democratic and Republican state representatives as the governor's news conference announced their public support for the proposal.

The plan retains the Ohio Turnpike Commission as a public entity and retains jobs. The governor originally touted benefits of a lease. But counties hosting the 241-mile toll road strenuously objected.

Annoucing public support for the governor's prosopal were the 14,500 member Operating Engineers union, the Ohio Trucking Association, and the Ohio Contractors Association.

The Associated Press

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